mental illness

The Dark Side of Mindfulness

by Bill Brenner January 25, 2016 Coping tools

Mindfulness has been important for my OCD and anxiety management. When used in the right amounts, the tools are immensely helpful. But mindfulness has a dark side, too. Mood music: Dawn Foster points out the dangers in a post she wrote for The Guardian that asks “is mindfulness making us ill?” In the article, we hear from a 37-year-old woman named Claire, who started suffering from panic attacks and depression when she started taking a mindfulness course. The mindfulness training dregded…  [Read More]

Using Mental Illness to Get Attention

by Bill Brenner January 19, 2016 Compulsive behaviors

I came across an interesting article on the AG News site listing 10 traits of someone who uses mental illness to get attention. A couple years ago it would have offended the hell out of me. But knowing myself as I do today, I see a lot of truth in there. Mood music: People with big egos often think of themselves as supremely awesome and interesting, even when they’re not. As I’ve said before, we OCD…  [Read More]

Emily Dickinson: Proof You Can Be a Happy Recluse?

by Bill Brenner August 12, 2015 Adventures in writing

Much has been written about the reclusive later years of poet Emily Dickinson. Eventually she rarely left her room, where she sat and wrote thousands of poems that didn’t see publication until years after her death. Mood music: During a tour of her house last week, people in the group speculated on why she wouldn’t leave the house in those years. Did she suffer a mental affliction or phobia? Probably. But whenever I look at…  [Read More]

The OCD Diaries in the News (UPDATED)

by Bill Brenner June 8, 2015 Adventures in writing

Update: Here’s an audio interview I did for the Standard Deviant Podcast a couple weeks ago… Episode #1 – Bill Brenner on security journalism, airplane hacking, OCD and heavy metal “Bill Brenner: 3 Books that Changed My Life“: By Jennifer Minella — In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry includes picks from journalist, writer and podcaster Bill Brenner. “In the Right Frame of Mind“: Man’s blog…  [Read More]

RIP to Haverhill’s “Crazy Mike”

by Bill Brenner May 5, 2015 News

I’m sad to report that the man known around Haverhill as “Crazy Mike” has died. He was found in some bushes along the Main Street side of Pentucket Bank’s Merrimack Street branch Monday morning. Police aren’t confirming his identity pending an investigation, but yesterday I touched base with his brother, who confirmed it was him. Mood music: I connected with his brother on Facebook a couple years ago, after I wrote some posts criticizing some fellow Haverhill…  [Read More]

I Can Be Hell on the Marriage

by Bill Brenner February 12, 2015 Depression

Erin and I have a strong marriage. But every marriage requires constant work, and ours is no exception. That work often requires me to look in the mirror. Mood music: For Erin, it means seeing my bad days for what they are and helping me work through them. For me, it means doubling down and fighting back the demons that make me difficult to live with sometimes. Having experienced all this, an article in Communication Monographs caught our interest….  [Read More]

If People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness

by Bill Brenner December 17, 2014 Depression

The cartoon below, posted on the Robot Hugs website, nails the misperception some people have about mental illness. For those lucky enough to be free of mental illness, it can be impossible to understand how the depressed mind works. That leads to a lot of unhelpful advice and opining about how the mentally ill should just get off their asses and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Maybe this will lead to better understanding.

Pain Leaks from Mind to Body

by Bill Brenner September 17, 2014 Fear and anxiety

Mental illness can lead to physical sickness. It’s a simple fact that some people find hard to believe. Mood music: I often hear people arguing over whether this person’s or that person’s aches and pains are “all in their head.” You know the type: There’s never any real underlying disease, but they’re always calling out of work with a headache or some intestinal discomfort. It’s all in their head, you say? Well, yeah. It’s called psychosomatic…  [Read More]

SecBurnout: Much Ado About Nothing?

by Bill Brenner April 11, 2014 Depression

At the SOURCE Boston security conference yesterday, I ran a session with former colleague and friend Josh Corman on the topic of security burnout. It’s an issue I’m increasingly dedicated to, given my own history with mental illness and high-profile deaths in the community. When I think of the suicide of Aaron Swartz and the accidental overdose of Barnaby Jack, something in me screams out to act. I’m also inspired by the efforts of people like…  [Read More]

Proof That Mental Illness Needn’t Be A Career Killer

by Bill Brenner January 29, 2014 Courage

A few months back, I was interviewed for a Forbes article on people who turned their mental illnesses into a career strength. I’m happy to discover there are more success stories to share. Mood music: A good friend forwarded me “Why I Hired an Executive with a Mental Illness” by Rob Lachenauer, CEO and a co-founder of Banyan Family Business Advisors. Lachenauer describes hiring someone after a job interview in which the candidate came right…  [Read More]