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Our Mental Health Blogs

Afraid Of A Phobia-Free January?

Afraid Of A Phobia-Free January?

Of all the months, January surely lays claim to the title of, “redheaded stepchild”. Is there any month with such an image problem? The icicles which only weeks ago seemed to twinkle magically in expectation of fun, food, festivities, frivolity, and convivial camaraderie, now appear like menacing, pointed teeth in the jaws of a hideous beast intent on devouring us with short days, cold nights, bitter wind, and impassable roads.

These are the days when you realize that watching your microwave oven heat a burrito is more edifying than watching TV. You gaze upon the walls of your home expressionless as a doll, unblinking eyes the size of pie plates, looking for anything, anything at all to relieve the ennui and postmodernist dread.

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The Method In My Madness And The Madness In My Method

The Method In My Madness And The Madness In My Method

When you get to be my age you start asking yourself questions like, “What time is it?” and “What am I doing in Tijuana?” and “Where are my teeth?”

If you are about to celebrate a birthday, (if celebrate is the right word), you may be tempted to gaze across the seemingly endless succession of impulsive decisions, high-speed car chases down cul-de-sacs, and manic spending sprees littering the ravages of what you generously describe as “your life” and wonder how you managed to squander the cornucopia of opportunities strewn at your feet as a child.

Or not.

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Stand Up For Mental Health And Stand Up For Yourself

Stand Up For Mental Health And Stand Up For Yourself

Today, Funny In The Head is taking a break from the usual frivolity to help my dear friends at HealthyPlace roll out their “Stand Up For Mental Health” campaign. I believe this subject is absolutely essential to all of us who, in one way or another, have been touched by mental illness.

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Stalkings Of An Insanity Clause By The Chimney With Care

Stalkings Of An Insanity Clause By The Chimney With Care

Americans are obsessed with fame, which they see as a passport to emotional well being, validation, respect, better tables at restaurants, wealth, improved dating options, and immortality. This perspective is jejune, puerile, naïve, and stupid. Fame is very different than what one imagines, as I have discovered since joining the Healthy Place team and penning my delightful weekly mental health humor blog, “Funny In The Head”.

Prior to joining Healthy Place I was an aspiring poet, novelist, memoirist, cartoonist and Taz Mopulist marooned in obscurity; stitching and unstitching my agonized, overwrought, self-indulgent verbal constructions with the sort of doom and fatalism usually reserved for reading novels by J.P. Sartre. Family members frequently posted my first driver’s license photo on milk cartons with the melancholic question, “Have You Seen Me?” I could have made a tidy sum consulting for the FBI’s Witness Protection Program.

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Stray Dogs, Orphans, and Thanksgiving

Stray Dogs, Orphans, and Thanksgiving

For many of us who every morning strap on the old miner’s helmet and begin yet again the long descent into territories ruled by unseen dictators; who boldly confront the limitations and restrictions thrust down upon us like leaden capes by inexplicable, cruel fates; who summon the courage to confront yet another day replete with overwhelming obstacles and dark mysteries, who – Columbus-like – sail into an unknown sea teeming with tiny monsters both real and imagined – indeed, for all of us and others as well, Thanksgiving is a very special occasion indeed; or, more properly put, Thanksgiving is like a corpulent nightmare of wretched excess, unrealistic expectations, and unfair demands, served up dressed in bitter herbs on a harrowing stroll down memory lane where one is reminded of experiences one spends the rest of the year trying to forget.

Or not.

But these weepy reminders of what is so frequently the case overlook a social quagmire even more desolate than having to face one’s family on Thanksgiving, that is, having nowhere to go on Thanksgiving.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week – How You Can Help The Cause

Mental Illness Awareness Week – How You Can Help The Cause

When I sat down to write Invisible Driving in 1990 there was no way for me to know that this simple act of literary recklessness would hurl me down a path of mental health advocacy ultimately culminating, 22 years later, in the conclusion of this sentence.

Such is life in the land of Whackadoomious. Prior to writing the universe’s first bipolar memoir, I had labored valiantly to keep my mental illness under cover, hidden from the pitchfork-wielding town folk who welcome the mentally ill with the same enthusiasm they shower on seven-year locusts. Going public as a bipolar bear gave me what I call “confession Tourette’s” – I went from “lips are sealed” to bipolar blabbermouth.

Essentially, I wanted to educate the public as much as possible and, I dared, even defied, any of them to look down on me. I had a surly honking attitude back then. In time, I actually came to a point where I condescended to square shooters because – without mental illness as a teacher – their life experience was, quite frankly, inadequate in comparison to mine.

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Grateful To Be Imperfectly Awful – Mental Health Confession

Grateful To Be Imperfectly Awful – Mental Health Confession

For reasons we might want to explore at some other time, I spent over 30 years toiling in the corporate vineyards as an advertising copywriter – an occupation which enjoys a level of social prestige roughly equivalent to that of garbage collector, lawyer, and snake oil salesman – although to be sure – the latter group is begrudgingly afforded a modicum of respect since almost everyone abhors a squeaky snake. I know I do.

But I digress. Writers, as you know, are a disreputable lot. As a rule they live in culverts, subsist on scraps of food left by others in greasy spoon diners on the outskirts of town, frequently showing up for work with three day’s of stubble, pockets crammed with losing lottery tickets, reeking of bourbon and cheap cigars. The men are even worse!

As a bipolar dipsomaniac with a chronic attitude problem that includes contempt for authority, you can imagine I lost and found and lost employers the way others misplace car keys. Some jobs were submerged deep within the bowels of soulless corporations shamelessly exploiting the witless populace, while others resided in neurosis factories referred to as advertising agencies where paranoia, throat-slitting, and British wardrobes were passed off as creativity.

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Show Me The Way To Recovery Road

Show Me The Way To Recovery Road

I entered the damp basements of Alcoholics Anonymous many years ago, and found a new, immeasurably superior, way of life. I won’t belabor this point, and I certainly won’t try to sell it to you. But I will say it worked for me and continues to do so.

Everything about it surprised me, which was annoying, because I don’t like surprises; I’m the kind of person who likes to believe he has it all worked out, (especially when he doesn’t), which I suppose is part of the reason I ended up there in the first place.

One of the biggest surprises of all was the amount of humor. Indeed, the process of having your perspective adjusted almost always improves your sense of humor.

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The Unwell-Come Wagon: Gifts For The Newly Diagnosed

The Unwell-Come Wagon: Gifts For The Newly Diagnosed

I will never forget buying my first house. It was a suburban rancher set in the bucolic splendor of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Bucks County, for those who don’t know, was home to William Penn. It is bordered on the east by the Delaware River, indeed, the famous incident depicted in a painting familiar to all schoolchildren – General George Washington recklessly standing up in a moving boat at winter as he and his intrepid soldiers cross the Delaware – happened there.

Bucks County is also where one finds New Hope (and who among us isn’t looking for New Hope?) a quaint tourist town dating back to colonial days that flourished because the ferry located there facilitated trade. Two centuries later New Hope would gain a different kind of celebrity as the summer residence of New York’s smart artistic set including painters, playwrights, composers, humorists, actors, fops, poseurs, and social butterflies.

My wife and I were able to afford it because it was a disaster area – the real estate agent described it as “tenant abused” – the victim of a “hot divorce”. This was an understatement, like saying that Dresden in 1945 “needed some TLC”. But the setting was remote and lovely. Our next door neighbor was a large dairy farm, our neighbor across the street was a horse farm where racehorses were bred and raised, and our down the street neighbor was a big-time cocaine dealer who lived in a massive geodesic dome and flew everywhere in his private helicopter.

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The Other Side Of Suicide: A Contrarian Perspective

The Other Side Of Suicide: A Contrarian Perspective

This is National Suicide Prevention Week and like many others who care about mental health issues I am turning my attention to this most terrifying – and taboo – of subjects.

I have been living with bipolar disorder, and substance abuse issues, all my life. When you inhabit this environment as long as I have, suicide is no longer a dirty secret, a shameful fate that happens to others – it is simply an element of routine reality. In my world everybody knows someone who committed suicide; I’ve known dozens. Many of us have attempted suicide ourselves. This forbidden act is simply part of our scenery.

There are as many ways to commit suicide as there are reasons. In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous – (in which I have found shelter for the past 12 years) – we speak of “the death of 1000 cuts” and “suicide on the installment plan”. These concepts apply to individuals who have a strong death wish but lack the commitment to see it through to its logical conclusion. They would rather torture themselves and their near and dear until, at last, they’re used up.

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