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mental health mondays :: alarming

we have a huge mental health problem. it can be solved and that will take work on a lot of different fronts. people are killing themselves in astounding numbers. people are killing themselves at a greater rate than at any time in the last twenty years and the situation is getting worse. relationship problems, financial struggles and [or course] mental health issues all contribute to the staggering rise, along with a number of other factors. there are no rules about who kills themselves, although there are some groups where the risk is higher.

improving mental health care, reducing the desperation that financial struggles can cause, and finding effective ways to deal with problems like substance abuse take time because they require larger scale action, but relationship-building is something that is built from the ground up. so while we're all calling for change on a larger scale, it is at least somewhat mollifying to know that we can do some things that make a difference without having to wait.

two celebrity suicides in the last week, two people who seemed to be winning their battles with bipolar disorder and addiction have come as a shock and, for those with mental health issues, such stories are immensely frightening. when i talk to people about my own past urges, i liken suicidal thoughts to have a snippet of a song stuck in your head: they seem inconsequential or annoying at first, but then build until it feels like a cement truck parked on your head. a dark thought enters and rattles around and it seems like something that you can control, but when you're ill, the balance of power tips quickly and you realize too late that you don't have a way of just expelling it, that you can't assert control over your own thoughts. that evil little thing can stay in your brain for weeks or months, or it can overwhelm you in a matter of hours and there is very little protection when that happens. even for the wealthy. even for those in a happy relationship. even for the privileged.

many, many people in my extended network have posted on social media virtually begging people to reach out to them if they are feeling suicidal or depressed. others have plaintively responded by stating the sad truth that the more depressed a person is, the less likely they are to reach out. the key then seems to be making honest, meaningful communication the standard for those we care about.  so that "reaching out" is just what happens on an ongoing basis, from both sides.

reach out when you're panicky and desperate. reach out when you're worried about someone and want to do anything you can to help. those are both important things. but even more important is reaching out just to make a connection that can let you can grab hold of when you're dangling. and be choosy. none of us have the time and energy we'd like to help and support others. making judgments is necessary and most of us will make mistakes on that front. that's not a reason to stop trying.

this is a suicide risk assessment checklist. it's used by medical professionals but, for once, you don't need to be a professional to use it. just keep it on hand. look at it. think about who you know who meets the criteria for either the long- or short-term group. think about how you relate to the descriptions. are you drifting? is someone you care about? you don't need to quiz anyone about their state of mind to know how at risk they are. and it can only help if we all just get used to trying to recognize the signs as part of our regular interactions with each other.

p.s. :: i've seen a few instances of people getting upset at others for not placing content or trigger warnings on posts about suicide. please, please, please don't do this. one of the major components of the battle against mental illness and suicide is that they are so heavily stigmatized, that getting people to talk about such things is incredibly difficult. demanding that people issue warning statements before bringing up the subject reinforces the idea that suicide is something that people should feel wary of discussing because it makes others upset. i know that that isn't the intention. i know that people post vile, ignorant, stupid things about suicide and mental illness because they want to seem shocking or rebellious. those people are pathetic and deserve your scorn. suicide needs to be discussed, without guilt and that isn't happening because it's upsetting. please.  


as long as you're here, why not read more?

a case for homicide?

last week a seven-year-old child died of dehydration and exhaustion at a facility run by the u.s. department of homeland security. the child was in government custody for seven hours before she died but no one seems to have checked on her or offered any assistance to her until she had a seizure and was admitted to hospital with a fever of nearly 106 degrees. it's not clear whether she was given water, food or a medical exam, which is standard for people turning themselves in at the border and throwing themselves on the mercy of the dhs.

death by dehydration [or the toxic shock caused by it] takes about three days for an average adult. for a child, especially one who had been walking in the heat for long periods of time, it can happen much faster. the preliminary report on her death indicates that she had not eaten in about a day. that will be confirmed by the final report [which is not due for a few weeks] but it's important that we understand that the government assertion th…

making faces :: journal of the plague week [with pat mcgrath]

i've been lax about posting before but this time i have a very good excuse: i've had the plague. well, maybe not the plague. close enough to the plague! this started on the 21st of november. i can say that with certainty because the very first symptom was a small cold sore on my chin. since i tend to track what makeup i wear, i can see that the sore appeared on the 21st, whereas before my skin was happy and clear, my body blissfully unaware of what was about to happen to it.

the plague began with a cough and muscle aches that were very nearly crippling. the aching subsided after a couple of days but the cough got worse and worse, keeping me up at night even when medicated and ripping my throat up something fierce. then the pain came back, centred on my head. and there was fatigue that i haven't experienced in years. walking to the bathroom was enough to exhaust me to the point where i needed a nap. which is awkward when you have to summon the energy to walk back...

the sy…

making faces :: written in the stars, in lipstick [part two]

it's the middle of september already? i'm not prepared for that? i mean, i am prepared for it because the heat this summer has been murder on me and i've been begging for a reprieve for months but i'm still bowled over by the speed at which time passes. this year, i've been measuring time through the launches of bite beauty's astrology collection, which arrives like the full moon once a month. [the full moon arrives every four weeks, which is less than any month except february -ed.] earlier this year, i took a look at the first four launches of the collection and already it's time to catch up with four more.

the most important thing for you to know is that after several months of problems, bite and sephora appear to have sorted out their inventory planning. for the last several releases, information has been clear and reliable as to when and where each lipstick will be available [pre-orders taken for a couple of days on bite's own website and a general…