As a staff writer for the Lodi News-Sentinel and Earth.com, I write about history, mental health, the environment, pets, and other topics. I also write speculative fiction.
Midway through last month, I took in an emergency foster cat. She’s very sweet and funny and playful, but when she first arrived, she had a case of cat flu and had to be isolated from my own cats. And that’s when OCD paid a visit for the first time in a long time.
In the Guardian’s Private Lives column last week, a woman wrote to share her concerns about her boyfriend’s sexuality. He had been struggling with the idea he might be gay, and she wondered if this was a valid worry for him, or whether it might be anxiety caused by his OCD. She wanted him to discuss his anxiety with a counselor.
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to stay focused on the current moment — what you’re feeling and experiencing at that exact time. When your thoughts wander to the past or future, you’re supposed gently re-focus on what you’re doing: sitting quietly and just being.
The other night, I was in bed and ready to sleep, but I had a problem. My thumping heartbeat was keeping me awake. My heart was beating at a normal speed, and it wasn’t abnormal, it was just pounding so hard I couldn’t ignore it.
A new movie, “Touched by Fire,” explores the connection between mental illness (specifically bipolar disorder) and creativity. I haven’t seen it, and can’t comment on the movie specifically, but it has sparked some discussion around social media based on a statement of one of the characters.
Tufts University researchers have been trying to track down the cause of compulsive tail chasing among bull terriers. But their findings have led them down a weird rabbit hole: Connections between compulsive behavior in dogs, horses, and other animals and a few specific biomarkers … and the same markers in some humans with autism.
OCDers all know there are a ton of misconceptions about our illness. In my therapy session yesterday, we very briefly talked about how so many people think OCD is about wanting socks to match up or cleaning a lot, and how damaging that is.
The thing about chronic illnesses is that they like to team up. This is no different for mental illnesses than it is for physical ones. Of course, most of us with mental illness know that a lot of people have two or three. Anxiety disorders and depression tend to run together. A lot of people with eating disorders also struggle with anxiety disorders. Many people with mental illnesses also battle addiction. But there are some links between mental and physical illness, too.
It’s an important question for everyone. We all know that groggy feeling of trying to get through the day when we haven’t gotten enough sleep. Or that equally gross, slightly headachy feeling of getting too much sleep. But for people with mental illnesses, it’s even more important.
The mammalian diving reflex is a physiological response to diving into cold water. All mammals have it to some extent, although it’s a lot stronger (understandably) in aquatic mammals like whales, dolphins, seals and otters. Basically, when you dive into cold water, your heartbeat slows down, your blood shifts from your limbs to your chest, and your breathing slows. It allows mammals (including us!) to hold their breath for a lot longer in cold water.