I'll have a coffee and a ponder owl donut, please
And also: MySpace, heartbreak, in-patient treatment, PTSD, and Mr. Kotter
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This week’s podcast episode title was incredibly long even though it had no verbs
“Jamie Tworkowski, founder of To Write Love On Her Arms” is a mouthful. Two proper names that consume a pretty high character count. But you gotta be succinct in a pod headline like the one for this week’s episode.
Had I the space, I might have gone with the headline of “Jamie Tworkowski was doing just fine in his life, working a creative job in the surf apparel industry. But he ended up in a situation where he had to help a new friend through a crisis. This friend, Renee, had been dealing with a substance use disorder, cutting, and suicidal thoughts. The help that he gave her was the basis for an essay called To Write Love On Her Arms that he published on MySpace - yes, MySpace, this was a while ago - which eventually became a non-profit organization aimed at helping young people in mental health crises. Now he’s left that organization to focus on public speaking and writing. In this interview, we talk about how he’s been dealing with depression for much of his life, how that depression gets triggered by heartbreak, and how he very recently went through a breakup that provided just such a trigger.”
But again, that might be a bit wordy for a headline.
Something that I struggle with a bit lately, and I brought this up to Jamie, is the gap between awareness and statistics. It seems obvious, at least anecdotally, that there is less stigma about mental health than there used to be. There’s more acceptance that people go through hard times. And that awareness is great. But the suicide statistics are still bleak and not really getting much better. So what can we do differently and why are we losing?
MySpace made me think about old videos by Ze Frank and that made me think of his project where he tried to get an earth sandwich made. That is, two pieces of bread on opposite points on the planet.
Sometimes headlines just make you say, “Well… yeah.”
Such is the case with this one from The Atlantic: Locking People Up Is No Way to Treat Mental Illness.
The failures in services for people with mental illness and behavioral disorders associated with substance use have resulted in mass incarceration becoming the country’s de facto mental-health-care system. People with mental illnesses in the United States are 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than they are to be hospitalized. Those who don’t end up in prison are likely to cycle repeatedly through patchy psychiatric care, spells of homelessness, and emergency rooms. And every year, about 2 million arrests are made of people with serious mental illnesses.
As a result, the makeup of our prison population tells its own tale: More than 70 percent of people in American jails and prisons have at least one diagnosed mental illness or substance-use disorder, or both. Up to a third of those incarcerated have serious mental illnesses, a much higher rate than is found at large. On any given day, approximately 380,000 people with mental illnesses are in jail or prison across the United States, and another 574,000 are under some form of correctional supervision.
The broad effects of gun violence
The New York Times takes a look at the long-lasting effects of mass shootings on survivors and people close to the event. The article spotlights a survivor of Columbine who spent years brushing off the importance of that event and subsequently experiencing recurring nightmares, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
For survivors, victims’ families and those who live near the location of a shooting, the psychological effects can be intense and prolonged. They may include post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, self-harm and major depressive disorders.
But even among those who do not frequently experience gun violence or who have never been directly affected by a mass shooting, feelings of fear, anger or helplessness can arise. And studies have found that continually consuming news media after a tragedy can lead to acute stress.
This has nothing to do with mental health but it does have to do with my other passion: artificial intelligence programs being not very good at being people.
Ada, the smallest and definitely weirdest model
Bath Roll - Three donuts melted hot on one side
Friar Flats - Topped with tomatoes, honey, red paint and ceramic chili caps
Ponder Owls - magical, yellow-feathered donuts covered in icing with puffiness and shine
By Soul - filled with firecrackers, black bean dip, red pepper syrup, and watermelon
Coconut Fun - Sulphure hasn’t been wiped off, a demon cake filled with coconut cream and pistachios
Blood Donut - Creamy moist donut topped with spoonfuls of delicious blood
Goofy Trick - the elephant, is a clown and it's all about tossing treats into his skull
Spankin’ - Other-colored donut with a frying pan in the middle
Speaking of getting stuff wrong
In the wake of the shootings in Texas, San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler announced that he won’t be coming out onto the field for the national anthem for a while.
This prompted people to take to Twitter and announce support for and opposition to… comedian and star of “Welcome Back Kotter” Gabe Kaplan.