mental disorders

Turning Mental Disorder into a Superpower

by Bill Brenner December 15, 2014 Coping tools

Instead of fighting some mental disorders, such as OCD or ADHD, picture yourself accepting and even embracing them. Then learn to use your disorder to your advantage. It’s kind of like Luke Skywalker learning to use and control the Force instead of it controlling him, or Superman learning to control his super-senses. Mood music: This won’t work for every disorder, of course. Some are more serious than others, like PTSD and schizophrenia. But Edward (Ned)…  [Read More]

Therapist Shopping

by Bill Brenner October 31, 2013 Mental health

A few months ago my therapist retired and moved to warmer environs in the south. He said I was managing my OCD well and that I didn’t need therapy until the autumn. Mood music: That last appointment was in the spring, with the season’s increasingly long periods of daylight, the environment I function best in. Now it’s late October, with shorter days, and the seasonal issues are starting to kick in. Sunday I started getting…  [Read More]

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]

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]

Another ‘Crazy Mike’ Facebook Page? Jerks.

by Bill Brenner October 30, 2012 Political discourse

Last year, I found a disgusting Facebook page making fun of someone with a serious mental illness. The site was taken down, but now there’s a new page dedicated to the man locals call Crazy Mike. I want the creator and those who like the page to know something. By embracing such a page, you are making a much broader statement: either that you don’t understand the suffering a person experiences from mental illness or…  [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]

Is Humor Reinforcing the OCD Stigma?

by Bill Brenner September 7, 2012 OCD

I got an interesting response to some older posts about OCD gag gifts — particularly one about OCD hand sanitizer. The reader was worried these gifts and other brands of OCD humor would only reinforce the stigma monster that keeps people like us in the shadows. Mood music: [spotify:track:2TJRQj7XJvGBY4ZzIue2ei] Here’s the comment, from Arthur Lawrence: I can laugh at it, and so can you. We both have OCD. And laughing at the OCD “monster” does indeed…  [Read More]

Oh, The Guilt

by Bill Brenner August 20, 2012 Mental health

I’ve always been driven by guilt. I used to hide it because with guilt comes shame and with shame comes deceit. In more recent years, however, I’ve tried to use it to become a better man. Results are mixed.   My inability to process guilt started at an early age. Growing up Jewish, I’d get Hanukkah gelt (Yiddish for “money”) during the Festival of Lights. Not understanding Yiddish, I thought it was called Hanukkah guilt. “Why…  [Read More]

The Freak in the Newsroom

by Bill Brenner December 13, 2009 The stormy past

A tale of terror in newsrooms across the state of Massachusetts. I love my job. I love the subject matter (IT and physical security, emergency preparedness, regulatory compliance). I love the people I work with, many of whom I’ve worked with at other points in my nearly 19 years in journalism. And I love my daily dealings with some of the smartest, passionate security professionals on the planet. But it wasn’t always this way. Work used…  [Read More]