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mental health "mondays" :: is it all in your head?

one of the most common questions asked about any sort of mental disorder diagnosis is whether or not there is an objective test you can take to confirm it. wouldn't that be nice? i dream of a day when i can go to the pharmacy and buy a little kit that allows me to pee on a strip and check back a minute later: two bars crazy, one bar not crazy.

the science of psyche (or psycho) is still so theoretical that professionals in the field can't even agree on what the disorders in question are, or whether they've been defined correctly. there seems little doubt that people can identify when they're having symptoms- they generally recognise depression and anxiety and, in fact, millions of them, almost half the population of the united states, according to some surveys, flock to doctors for relief from these conditions at some point in their lives. and doctors oblige them, handing out medications to deal with their ills and reassuring them that, yes, mental illnesses are real and treatment is available.

the problem is that mental disorders are becoming so prevalent that it's almost too easy to diagnose them and miss that they may not be the problem in and of themselves, but symptoms of another problem with an entirely separate cause. that's right: there are a litany of other diseases that have the crazies as a side effect. because your life wasn't miserable enough with just one half of that equation.

sometimes, the links are easy to spot. trauma to the brain can cause changes in personality, seizures, even schizophrenia-like symptoms. for reasons that no one understands, the risk of suicide is substantially increased in people who have experienced head injuries. likewise, people who have long-term health conditions that cause pain and/ or fatigue (such as fibromyalgia) are prone to depression. these are among the easier things to keep an eye out for.

they keep you regular AND sane
however, there are other conditions that are more difficult to pinpoint that can mimic the effects of mental disorders with surprising accuracy. disorders or the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands are known to produce psychiatric symptoms ranging from depression to full on psychosis. liver disease can occasionally trigger hallucinations. people in the early stages of multiple sclerosis often show signs of mood disorders, leading to early misdiagnosis in many cases. even vitamin b deficiency can manifest as psychosis or paranoia (so eat your damn grains). the problem is that, in the absence of pronounced symptoms to suggest otherwise, it's unlikely that someone is going to go poking around your liver to determine why you're seeing angels. and while your psychiatrist is busy trying to work out the perfect balance of cymbalta and seroquel to ease your mind, the rest of your body may well be getting sicker and sicker.

so what's to be done? i'll give you a hint: the answer is really, really obvious.

basically, if you're diagnosed with any kind of mental disorder, or if you feel you're exhibiting the symptoms of one (or if people around you say you are), whether or not you choose to take medication, it should be standard operating procedure to get yourself checked out. get blood tests, keep track of any other symptoms you might be experiencing, the whole drill. there is no quick and easy test for the crazies, but there are tests that can determine if there's anything else that might be at fault and, in the absence of you pushing them, a lot of doctors are not going to take the time to do the necessary process of elimination.

keep in mind that, even if it's not well understood, mental health is part of overall health and, as with every other part of the body, a symptom in one area doesn't necessarily make that area the source of the problem. so yes, you might be crazy, but until they develop that over-the-counter strip test, it's best to rule out other things before you leap into the world of treatment.

once again, sorry about that "whoops" on the day of the week thing. mental health monday will occur next monday, as scheduled.


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making faces :: soft touch

ah winter, how my lips hate you. it's too bad, really, because the rest of me likes winter, down to about -12 or so. but there's no arguing that i get dried out. nuxe rêve de miel is my super best friend at this time of year, even more so than otherwise. [i gave bite's agave lip mask a try only to find out i'm allergic to something in it.] but our [still] new apartment is somewhat drier than the old one [electric vs hot water heating], which meant that, for a long stretch, virtually every kind of lipstick was uncomfortable. the horror. [i wrote a post a while back about the formulas that are friendliest to chapped lips.]

faced with this dilemma, i decided to try something not exactly new, but [for me], out of the ordinary: being a gloss girl. now, i don't mind glosses. i buy them from time to time, and i used to buy more until i discovered that i just wasn't using them near enough to justify the continued purchases. my issues with glosses are that they feather…


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…