Some parents of disabled children can appear unwaveringly positive. But one mother says her children’s autism has left her with “dark thoughts” and she wishes their impairments would disappear.
Max’s autism diagnosis three years ago gave me an unspeakable sense of relief. When a friend asked me later that day how I was feeling, I could only describe it in this way: “I feel empty and full at the same time.”
After years of being dismissed as hysterical and overprotective, I welcomed the diagnosis as overdue validation. To be seen and heard is always humanizing, and as a woman in the world, I have confronted my own invisibility more times than I wish to recall. The diagnosis, in my mind, represented progress.
Of course, trying to increase access to outdoor space has been a goal of cities way before Covid-19 struck. But the conversation has taken on greater intensity since the pandemic has exposed just how unequal access can be. It’s not yet been possible to quantify the mental-health toll of long weeks of lockdown, and any correlation with access to outdoor space. But we do know that isolation is bad for everyone’s mental health, and that people who lost incomes or had low incomes to begin with experienced more stress. “Covid continues to spotlight where these inequities are and what they look like,” says Burrowes.
From an enigmatic rage disorder to a sickness of overthinking, there are some mental illnesses you only get in certain cultures. Why? And what can they teach us?
“DO NOT FEAR KORO,” screamed the headline in the Straits Times newspaper on November 7, 1967. In the preceding days, a peculiar phenomenon had swept across Singapore. Thousands of men had spontaneously become convinced that their penises were shrinking away – and that the loss would eventually kill them.
Many of the New York counsellors have successfully overcome addictions and other life challenges themselves. “We’re committed to having folks with lived experiences, who can speak the language of recovery and of dealing with addiction,” White says. “Before you know it, you’re not on a bench, you’re just inside of a warm conversation with someone who cares and understands.”
The New York City benches – which are bright orange – were piloted in 2016 and launched in mid-2017, attracting some 30,000 visitors during their first year. The city so far has three permanent benches in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem, and the programme hosts pop-ups at festivals, churches, food pantries, parks and more. Friendship Bench counsellors also make themselves available immediately following community tragedies, including a recent suicide completed in public in East Harlem.
When we sing, large parts of our brain “light up” with activity, says Sarah Wilson, a clinical neuropsychologist and head of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne. She led a study which looked at how the brain reacts when we sing by giving volunteers of varying vocal ability MRI scans as they warbled.
“There is a singing network in the brain [which is] quite broadly distributed,” Wilson says. When we speak, the hemisphere of the brain dealing with language lights up, as we might expect. When we sing, however, both sides of the brain spark into life.
For many people with disabilities, options like remote working have been needed for years. Workplaces around the world have now made this shift. Are there other ways the world could become more accessible, too?
In case you weren’t aware, kids can experience anxiety! How do I know this? Because I was one of them! I can’t speak for all kids with anxiety, but I can tell you, this is what anxiety looked like for me as a kid.
I was diagnosed with anxiety at 22 years old, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t suffer from it before then. In fact, after I was diagnosed, my childhood started to make a lot more sense. I’ve heard a lot of people say this too.
For many, anxiety doesn’t just appear during adulthood — it was most likely always there, just without a name! Kids may have anxiety and not even know it’s not “normal” to feel that way. Parents may not even be aware that some things their children do can actually be signs of anxiety, which is why I have listed what anxiety looked like for me as a kid.
As it upends normal life, COVID-19 is causing people to feel anxious, angry, frightened, frustrated and sad. All these feelings are normal during this pandemic, mental health experts say.
But as the crisis stretches on, the prolonged isolation, financial uncertainty and fears about the coronavirus will almost inevitably trigger a spike in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, insomnia and substance abuse.
Notably, nearly half of Americans said the COVID-19 pandemic is already harming their mental health, in a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. And almost 1 in 5 said it has had a “major impact” on their mental health.
To boost your overall outlook, psychologists recommend getting plenty of sleep, eating balanced meals, going outside if you can and staying physically active. Self-compassion is also important; acknowledging your feelings can help you cope in a healthy way.
AARP asked psychologists for tips on how to handle specific mental health challenges during this stressful time.
Read the steps: