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rose from a wreck

A couple of decades ago, an Oregon girl’s car slid in the rain and flipped on a country road. Virtually everything else was wrecked, but she survived along with some silverware and one minor but ever-present reminder of the event.

I didn’t know that girl at the time. I didn’t know about the event for years after it happened. When I did come to know of it, the knowledge itself flowed from a fairly random convergence of events.

This morning, with my three-year-old snoring next to me, I set the book I was reading on my stomach and thought about the tenuousness of past events that led to this life.

My entire life would be different had that Oregon girl not arisen, basically fine, from a wreck. Read more…

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Between books and life

[audio]

Library audiobooks were supposed to save me money.

Unfortunately–or is it fortunately, for other reasons?–I happened to check out Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile two weeks ago. I only made it a few chapters in before I realized I’d need my own print copies to highlight, annotate, and reference.

The book was so much more illuminating than anything else I’ve read, I decided to buy the four-book Incerto series it concluded. I listened to two of the three other books, Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan, while waiting for my Incerto box set to arrive.

Well, other audiobooks will save me money, I thought. So there’s that.

box set.png

The last time I was this excited about a box set, it had “Buffy” in the title

[vignette]

Last Monday, I left work sick. I briefly explained my concerns to a friend.

“Don’t be afraid to take medicine!” my friend replied. Read more…

cherishing now (and trees)

My childhood home stood on a corner. In addition to having a small lawn at its front, it had one outside the backyard fence along its left side. My mom once planted several small trees there.

A few years after she planted them, she happened to talk to a man who worked with trees. He said that one of the trees should be cut down, pointing to some kind of dark mark inside a gash and saying the tree was already dead. It looked very much alive to my mom, who argued there must be something she could do to save it.

Nope, he affirmed. It’s already dead. It just looks like it’s still alive because it takes a while to for results of death to be evident to the human eye.

My mom, whose mental illness was itself becoming more evident by the day, thought her neighbors had done it–whatever “it” was. They’d hurt the tree to hurt her.

I simply thought it was interesting.

A few months back, I walked across a courtyard and pondered grim political news I’d just read. I looked up at a tree nearest my destination and thought, This is an illusion. Read more…

my riches

Last week, I wrote about coming to understand how:

my siblings
and i are rich in ways 
others probably wish
they were, or
would if they
understood
such riches
are even
possible

Our riches aren’t in cash. Poverty started us in a money-pit, so that the three of us will be paying student debt for another couple of decades for the privilege of climbing halfway out of that pit.

No, our riches ran deeper than that. I just couldn’t figure out how, or begin to imagine explaining it.

And then … I found a book.

Near its entrance, my neighborhood library has a little table of books for sale. It’s been there since I started visiting this library, but I never bothered looking at it. I figured it had too few offerings for any to be up my alley. Read more…

a hamiltonian history

Last April, I made a small but fateful decision in a grocery store line: I bought a copy of the Hamilton soundtrack.

For the first time ever, history came alive to me. It came so alive, I decided to read the biography that inspired the musical, Ron Chernow’s Hamilton.

“Oh, Deefy. You take such silly pictures.” — my husband, today

What I read fairly well stunned me. Sold, somehow, on the notion that history was a linear progression toward the betterment of humankind, I discovered instead that Americans today are having the same fights that our forebears did two hundred years ago. That those fights were extensions of fights that had been held elsewhere for decades to centuries prior.

While the state of technology has progressed, I saw that the state of the States … hadn’t, in fundamental ways.

I’d been a lifelong Democrat when I picked up that musical in the grocery store line. Democratic officials cared for the little guy, I thought, while Republican officials cared about the little fraction of the population that could fund grotesque, human-crushing legislation. That was pretty much my entire understanding of politics before I heard and then read Hamilton. Read more…

so-called imbalances & so-called cures

In 2013, I began to suspect that mental illness was more than a simple matter of “chemical imbalance.” I didn’t say much about this suspicion, because I had very little–apart from personal experience–to substantiate it.

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading Robert Whitaker’s 2010 Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America. Above and beyond confirming my suspicions with abundant (non pharma-funded) research studies, he tore apart the whole idea of mental illness as resulting from “chemical imbalance.”

Whitaker’s research suggested that “science” here was designed to fit very profitable pills from the beginning. Furthermore, and most alarmingly, he discovered strong correlations between medication and worse long-term outcomes. It was as if, he hypothesized in the book’s early pages, the medication itself was responsible for today’s mental health epidemic, with outcomes far worse than those reflected in a century’s worth of mental history data and for far, far more people.

There’s no way to summarize nearly 400 pages of meticulous documentation here. I won’t even bother, though I will encourage you to read the book if you’re curious what science actually supports.

What I do want share is a startling segment from the 2015 research afterward. It’s one thing to have a critic suggesting standard wisdom is far from wise; it’s another to have a member of the critiqued group confirming the same.

In a section titled “The Death of the Chemical Imbalance Story,” Whitaker includes an excerpt from an article written by the editor-in-chief emeritus of Psychiatric Times: Read more…

nope –> yep

about a week ago,
i finished reading
my 90th or 100th
thoroughly depressing
political book
in a year

my mind went, “great!
on to the next!”

alas, when my
eyes landed
on my to-read
pile, my body
replied with
a
visceral,
NOPE!

(enough grimness;
enough despair;
enough aching,
for now)

a week later,
my mind
continues
to say, “read more!
don’t become
complacent!”

meanwhile,
my body continues
to say,
NOPE!

so i tried
reading a health book
on my ereader
on break

one of my son’s
diary of a wimpy kid
books popped onto
the screen

i navigated away,
to my library,
and felt that
now-familiar
NOPE!
when i looked
at all the
“adult”
books

so i went
back to my son’s book

for ten minutes,
i laughed
from
my belly;
mind and body
together
hollering,
YEP!!!

Categories: Books, Health Tags: , ,
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