What Most People Don't Know About Self-Harm: The Evolutionary Basis for Injury

Monday, March 02, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

"I just want the pain to go away. The blade....it helps. I just don't know how else to make the feelings stop."

The woman in my office was not alone. Self-harm is an issue that is notoriously difficult to cope with, for individuals and families alike. There are several models that explain why these issues may come about, some of which have adaptive significance. Though it is unlikely that only one of these is triggering the behavior on its own, understanding them in combination may help those who engage in self-harm, those who love someone who does, and those who treat them. 

This blog is for informational purposes only. If you or someone you love is engaging in self-harm, please seek professional help and check out the books at the bottom of this post....  continue reading

Cramps, Bloating and...Suicidal Thoughts? Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and Ways to Combat PMDD

Monday, February 23, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under General

PMS doesn’t have an official definition, so anyone can attribute anything to it. Cramping. Bloating. Irritability. Tearfulness over cat videos or commercials. The incessant craving for ice cream. The incessant eating of ice cream. (More here in 5 Ways Your Hormones are Affecting Your Brain).

But Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a completely different beast. And it is a beast. It disrupts the daily lives of women, decreases their ability to function and at worst can tear families apart. I know. It happened to mine. But we’ll get into that in a minute. 

Despite the seriousness of the issue, the drug companies kinda fucked us up and made everyone and their mother pretty sure they have it through clever drug marketing. This has led to a great deal of potentially dangerous misconceptions. 

So let’s clear this up shall we?...  continue reading

"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