Mental health

Living in the Precious Present (If You Can Find It)

by Bill Brenner June 6, 2016 Communication skills for the crazy

One of the basic traits of someone with OCD is an inability to live in the moment. Learning to do so is one of my big projects at the moment.   I’m better at living in the precious present than I used to be. I can remember being a kid, always daydreaming about the future: what I’d look like and how cool my life would be if I were thinner, the clothes I would wear,…  [Read More]

Layne Staley, 14 Years Later

by Bill Brenner April 5, 2016 Addiction

“What’s my drug of choice? Well, what have you got?” —Layne Staley, Alice in Chains This week marks 14 years since Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley was found dead. Mood music: Like Kurt Cobain, Staley had a big impact on me in the early 1990s. But while I identified with Cobain’s depression, I identified with Staley for his inability to keep his addictive demons at bay. I can’t tell you how many times I listened…  [Read More]

22 Years Ago: The Day Kurt Cobain Died

by Bill Brenner April 4, 2016 Addiction

I remember exactly where I was 22 years ago this week, when I saw the news flash about Kurt Cobain’s suicide. I was lying in bed, depressed and reclusive because of frequent fear. Mood music:  I was living in Lynnfield, Mass., at the time. I had a room in the basement, just like I had in Revere. But this space was much smaller — a jail cell with a nice blue carpet. But I did have…  [Read More]

Remembering Cliff Burton, Metallica’s Original Bassist

by Bill Brenner September 27, 2015 Coping tools

I couldn’t let the day go by without acknowledging a grim anniversary. Twenty-nine years ago today, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was killed when the band’s tour bus flipped over on a lonely road in Sweden. Mood music:  The band’s first three albums had a huge impact on me. In fact, Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” album helped me get through my last major attack of Crohn’s Disease. It might seem bat-shit crazy of me to intertwine these…  [Read More]

Skinny Like A Fool

by Bill Brenner August 22, 2015 Addiction

At dinner with friends one night, a conversation about weight control got started. It reminded me of how hard I used to work to stay thin, and how dangerous some of my methods were. Examples: –In my late teens, I got the bright idea that I could party and drink all I wanted on the weekends with no danger of weight gain if I starved myself during the week, often living on one cheese sandwich a…  [Read More]

So You Think You Need a Psychotherapist

by Bill Brenner July 22, 2015 Mental health

People frequently ask  me about psychotherapists. They think they might need one and want to know if I see one. If so, am I getting results? Here’s my attempt at an answer. Mood music: I currently see a therapist. I like him and usually feel better after spending an hour spilling my guts in his office. He’s my sixth therapist in 10 years. My first therapist helped me unlock a lot of buried emotions that were…  [Read More]

My Kill Switch

by Bill Brenner July 14, 2015 Mental health

For someone accustomed to rising at 4 a.m. on a typical day, getting up at 7 a.m. is a lot like sleeping in. Lately, though, I’ve outdone myself in spades. Some days, I can’t seem to get out of bed before 9 or 10.  I’ve been napping a lot, too. Not just cat naps, but three-hour stretches of being out cold. Mood music: This is what I call my kill switch. During tough times, my body…  [Read More]

The Burden of Being Upright, Part 2

by Bill Brenner April 6, 2015 Mental health

I’ve written a lot about the frustrations that come with trying to be a good man when you carry so much baggage. The burden of being upright is something we all carry, but it’s really been weighing on me of late. Mood music: This isn’t a pity party. But I’ve learned over the years that listing my issues and what I’m doing about them can help put them into perspective for me and can encourage…  [Read More]

What a Weird Dream Says About My Real Life

by Bill Brenner March 23, 2015 Mental health

I’m in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as I write this. I’m in a hotel by the beach and it’s pretty relaxed. I’m sleeping more deeply than I have in a while. I’m also having some fucked-up dreams. Since I rarely remember my dreams the next morning, I’ve decided to capture this one. Mood music: Sequence 1 I’m with my father, aunt and younger son in front of the old family business. Everyone’s gathered to go to…  [Read More]

Heavy Metal Saved Me

by Bill Brenner February 2, 2015 Coping tools

I am your main man, if you’re looking for trouble. I’ll take no lip, no one’s tougher than me. I kicked your face you’d soon be seeing double. Hey little girl, keep your hands off of me…I’m a rocker. “The Rocker,” by Thin Lizzy A lot of people are amused to learn about my musical tastes. My work space at home and the office is cluttered with political and history-based trinkets, which would leave one…  [Read More]