Is your brain feeling good today?
October 10, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Did you know? Today is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day was started by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992 to raise awareness about mental health issues around the world. The World Federation for Mental Health has more information about this year's theme, Depression: A Global Crisis. Meanwhile, the Alternatives conference also starts today in Portland, Oregon. Now in its 26th year, this conference is the U.S.'s oldest national mental health conference organized and run for mental health consumers, offering tons of workshops on peer-delivered services and self-help/recovery methods. How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

(You can tweet about it using #mhday if that's your thang.)
posted by docjohn (35 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I was depressed before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.
posted by Egg Shen at 10:02 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not crazy about this either....
posted by gallus at 10:10 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Will my therapist charge less today?

(thx for the post docjohn)
posted by armoir from antproof case at 10:14 AM on October 10, 2012

How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

Don't mean to be a Davey Downer guy, but first thing I thought of:

I'm going to spend some time thinking about a friend who was shot and killed by the police after he ran toward them wielding an xacto knife. This was after he car-jacked a taxi to take him to the mental health hospital (which has since closed).

In the past I've volunteered trying to help folks who incidentally were also enmeshed in my state's mental health system. I haven't done much of that lately, I need to get back into that.
posted by marxchivist at 10:17 AM on October 10, 2012

How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

I thought I'd sit back and laugh at the fact that I discovered that it was World Mental Health Day while in the middle of a depression jag. Nothing beats a natural punchline.
posted by COBRA! at 10:19 AM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

the U.S.'s oldest national mental health conference organized and run for mental health consumers

I'm just window shopping.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:27 AM on October 10, 2012

Fork over 10% of my paycheck to my therapist...
posted by peacrow at 10:37 AM on October 10, 2012

If you can afford the time, I strongly suggest you spend it watching Sepolsky's truly excellent lecture on the the neurophysiology of depression. A must-watch for anyone who suffers from it and wants to know the latest understanding of what's happening to them.

(no prior scientific knowledge required)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:39 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I lost all my depression symptoms, for which medical treatments were failing, once I broke up with my girlfriend 13 years or so ago, and stopped looking for another.

I have a different definition of "mental health consumers" than the one intended.
posted by darksasami at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I will celebrate by taking my pills!
posted by kamikazegopher at 10:40 AM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

By not making shitty mental health jokes on the Internet. And by saying a quiet "thank you" to the universe that my family and I are fortunate enough to be healthy.
posted by jbickers at 10:43 AM on October 10, 2012 [16 favorites]

If the window for humorous quips is still open, here's mine:

20 year annivesary of World Mental Health Day? More like the 20 year anniversary of changing your site design!

Anyways, I don't know how conclusive studies are about neighborhood-level effects on psychoses, but I sure know a lot of people struck by mental illness where I grew up. In fact, I was once checking in to the mental hospital, or whatever term is appropriate now, only to discover two people I went to elementary school with suffering from psychotic breaks of their own. So I'll celebrate by considering how goddamn lucky I and my neighbours are to have access to socialized medicine and institutions that, despite their numberous flaws, are far from the stereotypical loony bins of pop culture. And I'll also take my pills.
posted by Lorin at 10:44 AM on October 10, 2012

I have a different definition of "mental health consumers" than the one intended.

Don't bet on it. Chronic stress is a well recognized cause of depression and relief from it is one of the products being sold.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:46 AM on October 10, 2012

Fuck it, this and this are me.

I started zoloft and xanax sometime last September. It was absurdly hard to tell myself to take a pair of pills every morning, but really helped level things off so I could focus on the real problems. Among those real problems - at the beginning of this year I had a real shitty couple months at work. I finally got sick of it and filled out a few applications online. So today:

I'm celebrating being off the pills since mid August with no ill effects or depression symptoms.

I'm celebrating by enjoying the hell out of my new job - they don't let you work more than 40 hours a week here.

I'm celebrating by going home at 5oclock, eating dinner with my family, and having sex with my wife.
posted by ish__ at 11:23 AM on October 10, 2012 [12 favorites]

I uh... started mental health day with a giant panic attack which I am still feeling 10-ish hours later.

So apparently I'm doing it right.
posted by Archelaus at 11:48 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I lost my brother, Jim, on March 20, 2000. He was being transported to UVA by the police after being found praying in the interstate and having premonitions of his death.

Jim was many things, he had a tested IQ of 165, he was kind, he was a climber, he was wild, he slipped into what we call "mental illness" when he was in his early 20's. As a child he was sick a great deal and was allergic to cow's milk and wheat products. Research now shows a correlation between gluten sensitivity and schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, depression and other "mental illnesses".

From an early age Jim was marked by his intelligence, his tenacity and sensitivity. In high school he used my father's lab to study the effects of hydration and radiation exposure on germination and growth rates of winter rye. But he also; made nitroglycerin, fabricated an oxy-acetylene torch that could cut steel like butter, and dug an 18 foot deep pit in the woods near the house that had a narrow entrance but 4 adults could stand in comfortably. Later experiments with gasoline in that pit put Jim in the burn ward for a week of opiates and debridement. He was lucky to have lived.

Jim was an extremist and never let off the throttle. This applied to his experimentation with mind-altering substances. Self-medication? Perhaps. I think that his drug use exacerbated his emerging "illness".

In college he did well when he could focus and not so well when he couldn't. We grew up in academic household and the pressure to perform was intense. Jim had a complete breakdown and, while driving him to his first institutionalization, my father helpfully said,"this is just a setback, you can still get into Cambridge".

After he was released from he continued to flounder and eventually dropped out of UVA and began his 'wandering' phase. He began following apparitions of the Virgin Mary which led him to Bosnia, the Vatican, Fatima, Mexico City and others. As the year 2000 approached he was increasingly agitated and concerned about my parents and returned to Charlottesville to make sure they were safe through Y2K.

He was clearly losing touch with the reality we all share and we (I mainly) had him institutionalized again in late 1999. He was released in early 2000 and, after a series of misadventures trying to get his things back from Salt Lake City, came home for my father's birthday on March 18. He left for one of his long drives (why he was given keys to the car is something I can not fathom) and, from receipts and notes I have found, I have been able to see that he circumnavigated the state but ended up near Botetourt County where my family had settled after coming from the Isle of Man.

He was found by a State Trooper praying in the middle of Interstate 64 outside of Covington, VA. He was taken to Covington and given a psych evaluation and my mother and I were notified around 3:00 AM that he was being transported to UVA for treatment. Later, I spoke to the transporting officer who told me that Jim had been sitting quietly in the back, shackled (hands and feet) as he was six foot six and strong. As they drove North on Interstate 81 and the sun was coming up Jim moved to the right (Eastward) side of the car and appeared to be praying. Then he started kicking. He kicked the partition between the front and the rear of the car out and when the officer pulled over he kicked the door frame so hard that it bent the upper window out 6 inches before the door opened. Apparently he had broken his leg shackles and lunged at the officer who maced him. Jim then ran into the Interstate where traffic had stopped so he ran through the median and into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer. He died on the first day of Spring not far from where my family first lived in this country.

It's been over 12 years and not a day goes by when I don't ask myself what I could have done differently. I'm finally able to go back and examine his life and begin writing his story. I expect to be "on the blue" with questions as I really dig in.
posted by skepticbill at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm celebrating by continuing to advocate for myself in a broken system. I'm celebrating by ignoring my family attempting to publicly insist that offering help to depressed people hurts their self esteem. I'm celebrating by getting fresh air and searching for an apartment and job.

I'm celebrating by acknowledging that things could be so much better, but also mourning how much worse things are for so many other people.
posted by bilabial at 12:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm celebrating by marveling at the difference medication was able to make for me, and how these days I can barely imagine what things were like before I bit the proverbial bullet. I'm celebrating by going to the recording studio with the a cappella group I'm in tonight. I'm celebrating by knowing that without therapy and medication, the fact that I have just found out that I'm losing my job on Friday would have crippled me. Instead, I'm updating my resume and trying to find the next opportunity.

I'm celebrating by knowing that it may suck right this moment, but there's a way through, somehow, if I can just find it. I'm celebrating with hope.
posted by Tknophobia at 12:25 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm celebrating by waiting for my doc to call back, after a third set of panic attacks in a week. He raised my generic Ritalin dose that I'm taking for ADHD, and that raised my anxiety from 'copeable' to 'the world is out to kill me and I can't stop crying'. And now, any stimulant, including coffee, triggers this. Made the morning commute real fun, I tell you now.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:27 PM on October 10, 2012

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother Jim, skepticbill.

And, jbickers, no one here is mocking anyone but themselves. Retaining a sense of humor about our problems is not a bad thing.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:30 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm celebrating by having just finished cooking up a pot of beef stew, by having started the day out calling a friend and doing some basic goal-setting together, by rejoicing that it's been almost five years since I was last hospitalized, by being thankful for having had an early intervention from therapists trained to help me with my specific set of needs, and by playing with my cat, who turns two (or three) this weekend and who has perfect teeth thanks to a daily regimen of toothbrushing.

October is generally a frightening month for me, as it was October and November when the most traumatic of my traumatic events took place. I start to have nightmares again, and I start to panic more often, and there are triggers around every corner. (Halloween decorations are the worst.) But the thing is, and I wish we had a campaign like this for mental illness: it gets better.

I mean, I'm disabled and things suck, but they're better now than they were five years ago. I understand myself better, and I'm better at loving myself and caring for myself and advocating for myself and washing my hair every day. I've also learned a lot about other people: about their reactions and their prejudices and their amazing capacity for love.

This year, I am celebrating that not every mental illness story has to end in tragedy, that I've broken a cycle still being lived over and over again by my parents' generation, and that the next generation of adults seems much more equipped to accept and help their mentally ill loved ones.

Damn. This holiday is better than Thanksgiving.
posted by brina at 12:37 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm celebrating by being alive and healthy at 30. The worst days I have now are better than the best days I had with depression. Today was a fantastic day!

Also, by remembering those who weren't (and aren't) so lucky. Take care of yourselves, guys.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 12:43 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

I thought I'd sit back and laugh at the fact that I discovered that it was World Mental Health Day while in the middle of a depression jag. Nothing beats a natural punchline.

So my workplace is trying to act all supportive to people with mental health problems. And one of the things they're doing is by trying to raise awareness of depression. Which they have done by sticking a double life size statue of a black dog in our foyer. An actual black dog. Look, I know what depression is, I don't need to be smacked in the face by a reminder of it every time I walk into the building. Especially as a toxic work environment is making it worse, and I can't leave.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:37 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is definitely no mocking going on here. In some parts of the world, not only are you at risk of ostracization for having a mental illness, you put you and your family's future welfare at risk for sharing that piece of information with others.

Mental health remains one of those areas even in industrialized nations that is misunderstood, discriminated against, and people who have a disorder often suffer from other people's misinformed prejudice. We live in a society where mental health is treated as a "separate but equal" component of our healthcare system -- a situation that I believe must change in the future.
posted by docjohn at 1:42 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think some of the comments at the top of the thread are mocking, which might have been what jbickers was referring to. They read as mocking to me.

Comments have improved considerably however since the top few.
posted by sweetkid at 1:46 PM on October 10, 2012

Yeah, "I was depressed before everyone else jumped on the bandwagon" definitely reads as glib to me. Maybe it was an attempt at humor, benefit of the doubt, but it fell pretty flat to me, at least.
posted by Tknophobia at 1:49 PM on October 10, 2012

That was in part what I was referring to, but also to jokes I'm seeing elsewhere, notably Facebook.

Skepticbill, that's an incredible story you shared. May I ask you why you put mental illness in quotes?
posted by jbickers at 2:13 PM on October 10, 2012

I'm celebrating with yesterday's realization that it has been almost exactly a year since I was finally correctly diagnosed and put on a medication that actually works for me. This ended an 8-year odyssey which included many medications and a year-long mania. This is the longest I have ever gone with a major depressive episode. And dammit, I'm celebrating.
posted by altopower at 2:19 PM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's been over 12 years and not a day goes by when I don't ask myself what I could have done differently.

What do you think you could have done differently? What he slipped into was a real thing, as real as cancer. Bad chemicals in the brain. If circumstances had been a bit different then maybe it would have been 9/11 rather than Y2K that put him on a downward spiral. If it hadn't been the highway where he'd finally broken all the way down it would have been somewhere else.

You did everything right. You looked after him. You got him the best medical care it was possible to get. You loved him.

Maybe people tell you this all the time, and I don't mean to pile on, but it wasn't your fault.

If you want to talk about what you think you could have done differently, there are a lot of people on this thread who've suffered through mental illness who can give you their perspective.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:39 PM on October 10, 2012

I'm celebrating by suffering through a stressful, 10-hour day at work, while simultaneously slogging through a month-long medication cross-taper in an attempt to finally find the drug cocktail that will work for me. Aside from a lengthy FMLA leave earlier this year, I've received no accommodations -- and trust me, I've asked. I hope events like World Mental Health Day encourage people to finally realize that this is serious, this is real, and this deserves respect. Also, I want some fucking time off.
posted by sock puppet du jour at 3:51 PM on October 10, 2012

Well if the problem was actually a inflammatory condition than he wasn't getting the right treatment. Often we think of mental health as being a problem of "the brain" only as if allthe enzymes, molecules, bacteria, virusi, and various other bodily processes aren't in a relationship with the physical functions of the brain.

Our health care hasn't really caught up with the science of treating the full bodily system. Psych meds aren't designed to treat many of the conditions that might cause inflammation or poor cellular health in the brain. Which means that medication is often not treating the right problem for many people.

It's rarely as simple as "the serotonin is low" for people who that is literally the only problem SSRI's might work wonders. For many people, not only is their brain a bit more complex than that, but their whole body has some lower functioning areas impairing brain health and they aren't even remotely getting the right medical care.

We absolutely suck eggs at nurturing the immune systems health and I say that because nurturing actually makes a huge difference in immune health. We also forget that cells are alive-- conditions of learned helplessly and abnormal cellular behavior ingrained as a result of abnormal conditions can also get ingrained in an organism. Working that out requires creating a stable and health environment that is healthy for the cells until the cells can "trust" the new environment and repair their manner of functioning.

Our current science of "force cells to behave with chemicals" is extremely primitive. Well it will be once we start using the huge amounts of research we could be using to create healthy environments for the human body/psyche.
posted by xarnop at 4:51 PM on October 10, 2012

Yeah, my first impulse was to say, "This calls for an Ativan!" Since I'm not supposed to drink with it. And then I realized that if you have to explain the joke... yeah, a lot of people have glib reactions to stuff like this, because you have to laugh or you cry. Or something.

Xarnop, chemicals happen to be a complicated thing, but they work extremely well for many of us. I thank god for chemicals. They don't work perfectly, I still have some bad days, but before that, I did all kinds of things with diet and exercise and they were still all mostly bad days.

Of course mental health should be more than just meds, but please don't dismiss how important medications are when there are lots of us who have seen massive improvements in our lives because of those medications.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:45 PM on October 10, 2012

I am going to celebrate it by:

* Taking it easy after waking with anxiety and not being able to get out of bed. And finally being able to, dressing in two minutes, and being late to work by 15.

* Being thankful that my mother, at age 70, has finally found a drug which enables her to function (just this month!), after having episodes of psychosis along a sliding scale of fucking horrible, and I hope that she continues taking them this time. For the first time in ten years I had a conversation with her just two days ago which was rational and she laughed. She made crappy jokes about the nurses in her ward but she was happy and laughing. *sniffle* it was awesome.
posted by owlrigh at 7:41 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

How will you celebrate World Mental Health Day?

By keeping my appointment with my Psychologist.
posted by rainbowbullet at 6:40 AM on October 11, 2012

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