Mental disorders

Navy Yard Shootings: The Stigmatizer’s Wet Dream

by Bill Brenner September 24, 2013 Mental disorders

With last week’s terrible Washington Navy Yard murders, politicians are preaching the importance of better mental health services. In the process, stigma building has reached disturbing heights. Mood music: This massacre, like Sandy Hook and Aurora, Colorado, before it, was perpetrated by a troubled soul with some degree of mental illness. Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis had told authorities weeks before that he was hearing voices in his head. Aurora shooter James Holmes had colored his hair…  [Read More]

Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

by Bill Brenner July 16, 2013 Mental disorders

An old friend and former workmate, Steve Repsys, has started a new community on Facebook called Let’s Talk About Mental Illness. If you have ever suffered from a mental disorder, I urge you to join and participate in the discussion. Mood music: I first met Steve nearly 16 years ago when I started my run as editor of the weekly newspaper The Billerica Minuteman. He had just started as a reporter. Neither of us knew at…  [Read More]

I Was Interviewed Again

by Bill Brenner May 14, 2013 Mental disorders

This time, I was interviewed for a story about how mental illness can actually make people stronger in their jobs. Check it out on  

Julian Assange: Autistic Hacker Or Just An A-hole?

by Bill Brenner April 9, 2013 Communication skills for the crazy

Last year I wrote a post about a report suggesting autism is an affliction of the brilliant. One man mentioned as an example was WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has described himself as having the “hacker’s disease.” Yesterday, a reader’s comment inspired me to revisit the issue. Mood music: [spotify:track:74Tgft8pxSCO0nkf4uxiM4] The reader said in part: This compares a neurological disorder to genius people whose curiosity takes finite state machines to places that their creators never imagined. How’s…  [Read More]

Control Freak-Out

by Bill Brenner April 5, 2013 Mental disorders

OCD sometimes makes me feel adrift even when things are going well. I’m feeling it a lot these days and this post, originally written in 2010, captures the malady well. Mood music: [spotify:track:44sz0rNbTA687rs9CYi0IN] There’s another byproduct of OCD that I’ve described indirectly before, but never head on. A byproduct for my own special blend of dysfunction, that is. Sometimes, no matter how well things are going — and no matter how good my mood is…  [Read More]

Human Tourniquets And Freaks Who Love Them

by Bill Brenner March 29, 2013 Communication skills for the crazy

I originally wrote this three years ago. Looking at it again, it’s an important post describing a time when not even best friends were safe from my insanity. I’ve updated it for the present.  Mood music: [spotify:track:2YGwSRjcY4Hjz6fktW9619] You know the type. They hang  out with people who act more like abusive spouses than friends. They are human tourniquets. They absorb the pain of their tormentor daily and without complaint. This is the story of the…  [Read More]

Packing For #RSAC and #BSidesSF 2013: An OCD Case Study

by Bill Brenner February 22, 2013 For travelers

I’m preparing to pack for five days in San Francisco, where I’ll be writing about goings on at RSA Conference 2013 and Security B-Sides. When you have OCD, packing a suitcase is as ritualistic as the compulsive hand washing you’ve heard about. Mood music: Before I had the OCD under control, packing was an all-day affair. I’d line up all my pants, shirts, socks, suit coats and accessories in order of the days I planned…  [Read More]

Out of My Head

by Bill Brenner September 27, 2012 Mental disorders

Like anyone with a mental disorder like OCD, I spend a lot of time locked in my head. My thoughts will be on what I’m doing the next day or a year out. Or they’re in the past, replaying scenes from long ago. Last night I began the mission to get out of there. Mood music: [spotify:track:7yqO8vYeyf8ahnLj9vOZ4G] It was the first night of my Stress Reduction and Mindfulness class. The instructor is my therapist, though…  [Read More]

‘Fixing OCD’ Article Is Badly Misleading

by Bill Brenner May 2, 2012 Adventures in writing

An article in The Atlantic called “5 Very Specific Ways to Fix Your OCD” blows it from the start — in the headline. OCD sufferers know damn well that you can’t fix OCD. You can only learn to manage it and make it less of a disrupting force in your life. Mood music: [spotify:track:74gJqWYjsfTyG4tSjhkoh7] Knowing that as I do, I’m dissapointed that the writer would give OCD sufferers false hope, followed by five pieces of advice…  [Read More]

The Monkey Will ALWAYS Be On Your Back

by Bill Brenner April 25, 2012 Addiction

I’m standing at a bar in Boston with my wife and stepmom. They order wine and I order coffee. My stepmom beams and says something about how awesome it is that I beat my demons. I appreciate the pride and the sentiment. But it’s also dangerous when someone tells a recovering addict that they’ve pulled the monkey off their back for good. Mood music: Here’s the thing about that monkey: You can smack him around,…  [Read More]