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mental health mondays :: the war at home

what's worse than being sent off to war when you're barely old enough to order a drink in a bar? making it home only to get poisoned by the government that sent you there. 
although it's certainly not a secret, i don't find that the opiate/ opioid crisis happening in america gets nearly the attention it deserves. at least, what attention it gets just seems to repeat "thousands of people are dying, it's terrible", without ever explaining how things got to the state they are now. there's mention of heroin becoming cheaper, of shameful over-prescriptions and dumping of pills in poorly regulated states/ counties, etc. but too much of the media coverage seems content to say that there's a problem and leave it at that.

one of the things that might be hindering debate is that a very big problem likely has a lot of different causes, which means that it's important to break it down into smaller problems to deal with it. and one of those problems conne…

digging for [audio] treasure

my computer tells me that i need to cut down the amount of music stored on my overstuffed hard drive. my ears tell me that that would deprive me of some wonderful listening experiences. 
halifax, nova scotia was not the easiest place to find out about music with limited appeal. it was a very music-centred city, to be sure, but, being smaller, things like noise, industrial, and experimental music struggled to gain a foothold, even as the alternative rock scene exploded in the early nineties. i was lucky enough to have some friends who were happy to share music that they loved, but i knew that there were lots of things that i was missing out on.

with the dawn of the internet, and various types of music sharing, i found myself able to discover bands that i'd heard about, but never managed to track down, from the days of underground cassette culture. and, to my surprise and elation, many of them do very much live up to what i'd imagined from reading descriptions of them in catalo…

armchair centre back :: finding your best boss

everything i know about bosses, i've learned from watching the premier league this year. 

it's been a long time since i posted about my love of football [soccer], possibly because i was traumatised by seeing my darlings swansea city getting mauled week after week, all the while looking like they were playing for the right to choose between being executed by guillotine or firing squad. it's been a very long season. well, half a season. suddenly, however, it doesn't seem so bad. the reason for that is very clear: carlos carvalhal. swansea's new portuguese manager is a breath of fresh air, and a complete switch from the focused and pragmatic paul clement. now, i liked paul clement, and i think that his internship at some of the best clubs in the world made him a real catch. it's just that sometimes you need to find someone who connects with your team, your people, which carlos definitely seems to have done. as the days lengthen and the weather shows some signs of…

mental health mondays :: an unstable situation

mood stabilizers are the simplest way to treat bipolar disorder and they work. so why aren't there more of them?

while watching my daily quotient of news programming, i had my attention captured by an advertisement. that usually only happens when there are animals involved [keep those penguins coming, cibc], but this was different. right off the bat, there was a reference to bipolar mania, which is something i've never heard in a pharmaceutical ad. when i looked up, it turned out to be as slick as what you'd see from coca-cola or l'oreal . apparently bipolar mania is suddenly money.

the drug being pushed was vraylar, which is still pretty new on the market. as it turns out, though, it's not a new concept: it's an atypical antipsychotic, of which there are many already on the market. i did some quick research on it, and there does appear to be something novel in how it works, regulating dopamine levels when they're too high or too low, but when it comes down…

winning through constant anger

chances are that you think the world is getting worse, because that is what the vast majority of people in western, english-speaking countries believe. and chances are that you're smart enough to realise that the way i phrased that means that the opposite is true. you clever people, you. 

as much as we are aware of problems in the world, the fact is that, by almost any measure, things have improved rapidly with us barely noticing. my maternal grandmother nearly died of diptheria at an early age, but by the time i was vaccinated against it, the disease was virtually wiped out in the developed world. the first two children my father's parents had died, but the subsequent six survived. my parents were happy to stop at one, because they were confident i'd be around for a while. there are probably stories like this in your own family, because things have improved for all of us, everywhere in the world. hurrah.

the article linked above makes an important point, which is that the…

making faces :: the seventh annual shrunken head awards for achievement in beauty

yes folks, it is that time again, and while these awards don't have the red carpet i would so dearly love to see, it's always exciting for me to hand out a few heads. [actually, i don't know that i'd want to see a red carpet that wound up at my door. i probably wouldn't have snacks or anything and i get antsy being around strangers.]

as always, i'll begin the festivities with my customary "why shrunken heads?" explanation:

if you're not familiar with the shrunken heads, it's a tradition that i inaugurated in honour of the fact that beauty is fleeting [all the more reason to remember it] and reflecting on the year in beauty is also a way to preserve it. [get it? preserve? why are you backing away from me like that?]
but if you know me, you're aware that i'm the sort of person who would just love to use a shrunken head as a symbol of beauty.

this year's awards are accompanied by a bit of guilt, because the fact is that i haven't …

mental health mondays :: employee of the month

one of the things that makes mental health difficult to manage is that it can be difficult to tell which are the symptoms and which are the root causes of a disorder. another is that sometimes the symptoms can disguise themselves as things we normally value. both of those things collided for me reading this piece in the atlantic, which deals with the possibility that work addiction may be a coping mechanism employed by people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

the idea isn't particularly farfetched; after all, 52% of men and 28% of women with ptsd will at some time in their lives meet the clinical criteria for addiction. and ptsd is often first identified through habits linked to displaced anxiety. and what gets linked to anxiety more than a demanding job? but drawing the line between the two isn't quite as easy as it looks.

work addiction isn't accepted as an addiction disorder in the way that alcoholism and drug addiction are. that makes it a little difficult to talk …