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The Real Face of Depression

Written by B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist

A few weeks ago, I found myself musing about the real “face” of depression.  I personally find it absurd to think that anyone who lives a full life can escape the feeling of being depressed at some point in their lifetime of 365-1/4 day trips around the sun.  A full life – one in which you choose to be awake  – includes its fair share of tragedies, heartbreaks, endings, and losses.  As I am writing this, we are on the eve of experiencing  a hurricane that affects hundreds of miles of homes and businesses, which can only mean that millions of people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, and the thought of human loss is grieving and yes, depressing. Yet rather than sharing only statistics and norms and “how to’s, I’m sharing my personal and professional musings on depression not just as a situationally-caused mood disorder, but also as a real “face” that seemingly has no cause, or to which we look beyond cause. What is the real face of depression?

“I have no reason to be depressed”

Wil Wheaton, actor and writer, has gone on record to share his struggle with chronic depression. He is a real face of depression for many.

You probably know at least one person who tells you, “I have no reason to be depressed.” Such a statement falls falls from a mouth of an intelligent, successful, healthy adult man or woman who appears well-loved and appreciated for his or her contribution to the community, the workplace, and the home. She or he can count off at least ten or more reasons why depression should have no place in her life, and yet there it is: this heavy, achy, tired, brooding feeling of either not wanting to have to wake up to another day (with suicidal thoughts and fantasies of ending it all), or the same heavy- achy-tired-brooding-feeling, only without suicidal thoughts. That same person may have tried counseling or some form of “talk therapy“, and while strategies for managing the symptoms of depression are discussed and employed, the person expresses dismay that after six months of weekly sessions, she doesn’t feel much different. Just depressed.

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Preventing the Bonk In Life

Preventing the Bonk in Life
By B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist

A professional trainer described a recent race involving a young athlete who ran out of steam just before the finish line. Slated to win, her body went from flight to a sudden near stand-still, while her competitors sprinted past her. Trainers and athletes call this response a bonk, when the athlete experiences a depletion of muscle glycogen or a brain depletion of blood glucose. This usually happens when the athlete either did not eat properly before the race, or in the case of an endurance race, the athlete did not replace the necessary protein-carbohydrate ratio needed to replenish glycogen stores. In this case, the young girl simply stopped running because there was no more “giddy yup” left in her leg muscles. As I’ve been reading about the kind of training and nutrition I will need to comfortably run my first 10K race and begin training for my first half-marathon, I’ve noticed similarities between a mild physical bonk I experienced after running more than 10K, and life experiences and challenges that can set you up for what I’m calling a life bonk. Here are a few ways to look at a bonk and how you may prevent a life bonk.

Watch this video to see runner Jonathan Raymond hitting the bonk just 100 meters from the finish line in the 2009 Canberra Marathon

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Psychiatry Sex Social Media Therapy Uncategorized

Identity Curation

Identity Curation
by B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist

Recently, I came across an article on Mashable about the ‘Facebook Facelift’: that is, facelifts prompted by concerned consumers after seeing their images as depicted on Social Media platforms. As quoted from the article, Dr. Adam Schaffner, a New York plastic surgeon stated, “When you look in the mirror you’re seeing the mirror image of yourself. But when you see yourself on social media, you’re seeing yourself the way the world sees you” [italics added]. Continuing to reflect on the intersection between technology, Social Media, and human behavior, I am not surprised at this increase. We are living in an age where curating identity has become a pasttime of teenagers, emerging adults, and business owners alike. According to the book, Identity Shift by Cerra and James, we have started using the Internet as a our mirror instead of a mature observer or authentic community to reflect to ourselves various aspects of who we are. The curation of identity on the Internet, with psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan’s philosophy on the mirror phase as a permanent structure rather than a phase in childhood development, creates a hyper-reality that is more real than the real. What happens when identity curation leaves consumers with a sense of disconnection from themselves? The following is a discussion about some of possible pitfalls of Social Media use in the effort to curate one’s identity to obsession.