What Everyone Ought To Know About Mental Illness

DePaul Today

By: Justine Smith, New Media/Web Content Coordinator

May is Mental Health Month, promoting the importance of overall wellness with the theme “Mind Your Health.” The focus, though, remains on mental health.

In our nation, as much as these complex topics are discussed, mental health and mental illness are sometimes truly misunderstood.

This misunderstanding is one of the main reasons stigma can surround mental illness. In honor of Mental Health month, here are some of the best visual representations and quotes about mental health we found. Share yours in the comment section below!

If phyical ailments were treated like mental illnessSource “If physical ailments were treated like mental illness”

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Until now I’ve been fortunate enough to remain ignorant about the existence of the Anti-Pickup-Artist Movement. Now the blanket coverage of Elliot Rodger’s spree killing is going to contribute to his “iconic” status, and throw searing white light onto the misogynistic subculture he slithered out of.

I’m not going to post any links to his videos or collected writings, including his interminable 141 page magnum opus “My Twisted World”. Every drain is clogged up with this; testaments to a ‘…sophisticated gentleman’ cheated by a universe in which women have minds and a mouth isn’t just another hole to fuck them in.

Friday’s brutal events have thrown Rodger into sharp relief. Nothing in his posts is particularly original – common garden self-pity, misdirected rage and blame, desperate attempts at self-aggrandisement. Finding like minds isn’t the quest it used to be, and PuaHate seems to have established quite the circle-jerk.

Its worth noting that their URL has gone 404. Pulling down the blinds – online that’s some hard shit to swallow, especially in a Rule 34 universe where one can probably find an analogous, pornographic rendition of Rodger’s spree. There’s far too much darkness clinging to this, and hopefully the oncoming debates and discussions and campaigns will offer pause to those within the seduction community, who’s language and discourse offered context for Rodger’s warped perception of the world.

The blame game always comes up short. The pick up artists didn’t kill those people. Rodger did. Some stories want to make hay of Rodger’s Asperger’s. Inevitably, mental illness has risen in the mix. Any explanation for how the moneyed son of a successful film-maker, living it up Santa Barbara way comes to murdering six people and injuring 13 more. Something you can wrap up nice and tight, something distinct. But given that Rodger’s own words barely manage a superficial insight into his motivations, any wait remains in vain.

Defaulting to cynicism and misanthropy can be counterproductive and foolish. Still, people can and will surprise you in some truly awful ways. Tragically, you’re sometimes not surprised at all.

Rolls like water…

We returned home around 1pm yesterday. Would have been at least an hour and a half earlier if the baggage handlers at Gatwick could distinguish arse from elbow. You know when you’re back in England: temperature drops, skies turn grey and suddenly you’re drowning in phone shops and coffee concessions.

The long journey on the district line wasn’t as bad as I feared. I hate sitting still for too long, which is strange because I have no trouble with long plane flights. Sometimes the destination justifies the weight of the way travelled. We were so tired by that point as to be effectively anaesthetised. I even got to play some ‘wise owl’ thing – discussing hair dye with some bright eyed teen proto-goth.

And so here I am now. Funny how a brief change of pace can give someone a fresh perspective. Those nights on the balcony; warm breeze, rolling seas, typing by starlight. I want that. More of that. I work in a business where every third person you talk to has aspirations to be A Writer. Hell, put enough of us in a room, throw a bucket of water and you’ll drown dozens of ’em. But I’m not talking about The Novel. I’ve tried fiction and I don’t have the size for it. No focus; a struggle to draw something from the bottom up.

I’m also quite the egomaniac. I love the sound of my own voice or the, er, sound of my own words. Maybe I can type and do something with it too. Another thing I did while sitting on that balcony was look at Journalism MA courses. I have a degree, so getting onto a course is largely a matter of money. What seals the deal is whether or not another degree would actually do any good.

I’m young, but crossing the threshold. If I want to make changes, this is the time to put it in motion. When I was studying film, the best people on my course were the mature students. The most naturally capable was in his 40s, and he put every other one of us to shame. It’s early, but I’ve already been thinking about things Liam could be asking me in the future. One of them is going to be about university. My advice? Leave it a few years. Finish school then get a job. Or travel. Or both. Figure out what you want to do, what feels right; rather than the vague notions and delusions your uncle had.

I was 19. Making life decisions barely 18 month after getting out of a psychiatric hospital. I had no clue what to do, so I went with the path of least resistance. And it feels like I’ve been doing that ever since.

 

Whether I stick with it or not, I need to get out of this place. Out of B&D, probably out of London. Too many old ghosts, and sometimes I just feel like all motivations and concerns are out of whack. I was 19 and now I’m thinking back on that and, more importantly, the kids I knew when I was 17. Tacitly, Icarus implies that we are A People. United by mad gifts. I want to write and I want to do something. Certainly for those who are written off, hurting, abused, left feeling like a voice and a life are more than they’re worth.

There’s one week left to go on Meat Free May. Do something amazing today – donate just a little to the important work of Friends of the Earth.

 

Tobago – Signal

And so to you, my last night on the island of Tobago. My apologies for any typos you may encounter herein – been drinking the local brew, Carib, solidly for the last few hours. I also spent 230 TTD on a single shot of Johnnie Walker Blue. I am very proud of myself.

The ocean’s a little rough this side of the Atlantic tonight. Got a lot of crashing waves, rolling beneath an astonishingly beautiful array of stars. I want to call this view ‘heartbreaking’, because its beauty touches you in places there may not even be names for. ‘Heartbreaking’ isn’t appropriate at all however, because this view is one of those things which reminds you how wonderful this world can be.

That’s a bold load of letters for someone like me to hammer out. Or so I’m told. Or so I tell myself. I think I’m supposed to be some kind of cynical old fuck, but I don’t think my heart’s in it anymore. I’m a romantic at heart, always have been, but you slap enough damage onto something and it hardens. Deadens even, in the right/wrong places.

“Bipolar” is the term on all the medical documents. “Psychotic” is the ‘reclaimed term’ I’ve been using for a while. Now I’m leaning towards “Polarist”, but even that’s wrong. “Person” comes closest I imagine, but any term is riddled with inadequacies.

I refer to it as a ‘signal.’ Its always there in the background; my own private CMB. Its like a conversation you can’t quite listen to, a station you can’t pull from all the static. I love the term “Hall of Mirrors” – its one of my cyphers, riding high alongside Cause. HoM fits here, because anything I read in the sound of the waves or the whispers in these palm trees or the searing beauty of my stars is ultimately born from within me. Within you.

Reflected light is all we are.  Imprinting wants and desires, ideas and definitions and self-assigned certainties onto anything and anyone around us. Maybe it is all about me. From your perspective: you. Seeking something warm, something beautiful or good is ultimately a pursuit of what is better within us all. If we can find something to believe in, something which inspires or gives us reason to hope; then every one of us comes within reach of infinity.

 

Meat Free May: Tobago – An Angry Post about Endangered Species

Nothing lasts like a little context. From a charitable perspective, my primary motivation for signing up for Meat Free May comes from a certain revelatory moment about the impact farming and fisheries smack down on the environment.

My hotel balcony offers a breathtaking view of the Atlantic coast. I could vault over the bannister, drop a floor and limp to the water’s edge all within a few minutes. where grass surrenders to sand their is a sign explaining that this private beach moonlights as a hatchery for the island’s three principal turtle species.

The Green Turtle (chelonia mydas) principally concerns itself with seagrass and algae, though the fates consider viral tumours and the inevitable poaching to be worthy considerations too.

The Hawksbill Turtle (eretmochelys imbricata) carries a distinctive bill and a taste for certain corals, sponges and invertebrates which promote levels of toxicity within its flesh which can be fatal to humans if ingested. Because humans can find any reason to slaughter something beautiful, crafts made from their shells apparently justify their reaping. Combined with the degradation of marine habitats and ‘incidental mortality’ from fishing; the hawksbill occupies pride of place in the crosshairs.

For some reason the story of the Leatherback (dermochelys coriacea) resonates with me the most. That any species is endangered is an outrage, but the Leatherback’s demise would deprive us of something truly unique.

Besides being the largest of all modern turtles; Leatherbacks are the fourth largest reptile behind three renditions of crocodile. They have occupied every single ocean on the planet, often as far down as 4000 feet, and have been doing so for the better part of 100 million years.

For scale; and to demonstrate how fucking despicable some people can be.

You’ll note the distinctive ridges and leathery shell (hence the name) this twisted abuse of oxygen is obscuring. Lacking a traditional bony shell diminishes their suitability for arts and crafts; and their size limits their predators to killer whales, sharks and us. Poaching during the nesting season contributes to their endangered status, but entanglement in fishing gear is yet again a critical threat to the Leatherback. Another entirely perverse danger to these beautiful creatures is ocean pollution – often suffocating plastic bags mistaken for the jellyfish which forms much of their diet.

This post has meandered and is far more incensed than I was anticipating. Proximity can do that – in the dead of night I’ve seen men stalking the beach from here. This could be entirely innocent – night fishing is a valued (and legal) practice – but suspicion is justified. Despite extensive education, legislation and committed enforcement; the fight for survival is undermined by a demand for exotic, seasonal delicacies. I can’t think of a more perfect demonstration of the importance of work by organisations like Friends of the Earth. From here, I could transplant something precious and rare from beach to bowl with comparative ease.

Responsibility isn’t an abstract. Its easy to forget that we can all remain informed and that we all have to make a choice.

Even the tiniest contribution can make a difference. Donations to Friends of the Earth are greatly appreciated.

Tobago – Magdalena

This is The Magdalena:

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This is also the Magdalena:

I am only inside of one of these.

The Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort nestles in Tobago’s Lowlands, looking out towards the Atlantic from Little Rocky Bay. By day you get a clear view of the island capital, Scarborough and at night a shimmering, near crystalline rendition of the same.

The image above is one of the many publicity stills you’ll find on Google images. I have my own images, including some night shots. Unfortunately my camera can’t transfer, my iPad doesn’t have a card slot and my phone’s Bluetooth isn’t a team player.

Not that it matters too much. Pictures can’t really convey what I’m seeing right now, and certainly these words won’t do any better. I’m on the balcony underneath more stars than I can ever remember seeing back home. Palm trees sway, lizards dash and dart between the bushes and the rhythmic, enduring tides keep their time.

What really catches my eye is the perfect dark stretching from the sand all the way to the horizon. Last night a full moon, low and yellow, hung over the water. A perfect reflection, moonlight slicing through the few clouds who dared stand to deny it. Beauty is something I’m fortunate to find in the everyday, but this was something else.

The resort’s moniker references the original Spanish name for the island, “La Magdalena.” Besides the obvious deference to the Holy Roman Empire, I’m told the Magdalena was also one of the ships in Columbus’ fleet. “Tobago” itself references “tobacco”, which was one of the island’s primary exports, especially under British rule. The resort is on the Lowlands Plantation Estate, and its not difficult to picture the harvest taking place where the PGA approved 18 hole golf course now resides.

Trinidad is where the action is apparently. This isn’t peak season, so many of the rooms are empty, and the current cliental is predominantly white (a mixture of Scandinavian, Germans, Americans , South Africans and us Brits as far as I can tell). Stages within the bars stand empty, but it’s not impossible that this place can shuffle towards jumping if it wants.

Older couples, affluent families, businessmen on conference/golfing jaunts. Its very much an enclave, putting distance and definite masonry between us and the Canaan village, which leads towards the airport and the beautiful Pigeon Point Heritage Park (which itself is very much secured).

It delivers. I can’t remember the last time I felt this relaxed. Unhurried, despite the ever-present CMB of my polarised mind. A disquiet I cannot shake despite the warmth of the people and the beauty of their home. I’m embarrassed when people call me ‘sir.’ I dislike having someone hop bells and carry luggage for me.

I can’t deny that this downtime has been needed, but my instinct is to get stuck in. Disappear into Scarborough and seek out the lesser measured angles. Follow my powerful desire to run into the ocean and swim towards this midnight sun.

Everyday distractions drift away, and new ideas are breaking the waves. I need to change or, more importantly, make changes.

The moon is rising again. On the horizon a cruise liner ferries souls towards a light I jealously consider to be mine. I made an offering to it earlier; carving “Grace” into the sand. A sigil representing beauty, for the stars to wonder at and the waves to carry out into the world.