Depression

Apple’s Siri Still Flawed When Talking About Suicide

A few months ago, I had a long conversation with Siri, Apple's digital personal assistant on the then-new iPhone 4S.

I told her I wanted to kill myself... and I wanted and needed help.

And, essentially, she told me that I was sh*t out of luck. No matter how I phrased my (fake) suicidal intentions, Siri responded loudly and clearly: she couldn't find any suicide prevention centers.

From March of this year:
Me: I want to shoot myself.

Siri: I didn’t find any suicide prevention centers.

Me: Can you try harder to find a suicide prevention center?

Siri: I couldn’t find any suicide prevention centers.

Me: Is there a phone number to call if I want to kill myself?

Siri: I couldn’t find any suicide prevention centers.
She was useless. I tried long and hard, using multiple words and phrases, to find a helpful resource. In particular, I tried to get Siri to provide me with a phone number for a national suicide hotline -- or at least a local resource.

Siri found me a few motorcycle dealers (why?!!), but nothing to stop me from killing myself. So has anything changed?

Continue Reading

Children and Teens

The Power of a Child’s Imagination: Caine’s Arcade

We know that kids have big imaginations. But sometimes we forget just how great they can be. We forget just how much joy and creative fire they can fuel. And we forget that our kids’ imaginations can actually promote positive change.

Nine-year-old Caine Monroy spent months meticulously constructing an arcade at his dad’s used auto parts store, Smart Parts, in East Los Angeles. His tools were simple: cardboard boxes and packing tape. Caine worked on everything from designing his games to creating his prizes. With little foot traffic and a lot of harried customers, he didn’t get any visitors to his elaborate, life-size arcade. But Caine kept at it.

One day filmmaker Nirvan Mullick needed a used door handle for his 1996 Toyota Corolla. He happened to pick Smart Parts. Caine asked Mullick if he’d like to play in his arcade. Mullick bought the $2 Fun Pass, giving him 500 turns.

Mullick became Caine’s first customer. He also captured Caine’s creation on camera in the below film. (Caine ended up getting a few more customers to his arcade.)

Continue Reading

Family

Video: 4 Tips For Handling Criticism

Even though negative feedback from others may feel like a personal attack, it can provide helpful clues for self-improvement and healthier relationships.
1. Consider the source
How close are you to the person offering criticism? How much do you respect their opinions? Do they criticize everyone? Weigh the criticism based on how much you value the relationship.

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Video: What NOT to Say to Someone Who is Having a Panic Attack

Your intentions are pure. You want to help.

It might be your friend, your spouse, or one of your parents. It might be a co-worker, your sister, or your child.

If you've never had a panic attack, however, it can be difficult to imagine how panic feels. Thus, it can be difficult to comfort someone who is legitimately panicking.

In a way, I can only speak for myself. I'm not a doctor. I'm not a therapist. I'm just another woman with panic disorder, after all.

But thankfully, I've established a pretty large support network in my nine or so years of dealing with panic. Friends, family members, and internet acquaintances all seem to agree on one thing: "help" can sometimes hurt.

The quotation marks are intentional. To the non-panicker, "just calm down" might be the first phrase to trip out of your mouth during a friend's surprise panic attack. We know you mean well -- really, we do.

But phrases like that have the potential to fan the fight-or-flight flames. Find out how in today's video:
Continue Reading

Brain and Behavior

Video: Are You Easily Persuaded? (Hint: Yes, And Here’s Why)

Think you can avoid a sales pitch?

Maybe you can. If there's a salesperson knocking on your door, you could run away and hide in the bedroom until he goes away.

But not all masters of persuasion are dressed up in suits and ties to sell volcano insurance. We actually fall victim to many sales pitches each and every day -- from television, from magazines, from friends, and from family.

It's not your fault, really -- it's part of our nature to behave in a manner that makes us susceptible to certain persuasive techniques. In fact, it's common courtesy.

Let's say you head out to the bar with a friend. First round of drinks is on you.

Then what? Who gets the next round?

Continue Reading

Anxiety and Panic

Video: A Real Sufferer Cherry-Picks the Best Anxiety Management Techniques

Have you ever done a Google search for "anxiety management tips"?

You will find a bewildering number of results. Over 4 million, in fact. (Protip: if your anxiety stems from information overload...well, searching for anxiety management techniques on this massive internet of ours might make things worse...right?)

So...if you're looking for effective anxiety management techniques, where should you start? What should you click on? Do you click on the very clinical-looking PDF document from a large university's psychology department? Do you check out the tips on a local therapist's website? Do you check the Psychcentral Library? The NIMH website? Should you read something written by a doctor? A psychiatrist?

I'm neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist. I'm just a plain old anxiety sufferer like the rest of you. Why should you care about what I have to say?1

ON AUTHENTICITY

Now, let me say this: I think there are some fantastic resources out there that are written by mental health professionals. Many of those resources are right here on Psychcentral. A therapist's perspective on anxiety management and recovery is invaluable.

But earlier this week, a few of my Twitter followers were left a bit stymied by
Continue Reading

Video: Chato Stewart’s Mental Health Hero Caricatures (Part 4)

We've reached the end!

Blogger Chato Stewart has so many Mental Health Heroes that it took me four videos to cover them all! He's honored each of his self-selected heroes by caricaturing each hero and writing a bio in his or her honor on his blog, Mental Health Humor.

I've honored Chato for doing all of that honoring by compiling his artwork and bios into videos that show you the human hero and the cartoon hero back to back.

And now, because I don't want the...
Continue Reading

Video: Chato Stewart’s Mental Health Hero Caricatures (Part 3)

This week’s video honors the third (but not quite final!) batch of “Mental Health Heroes” that blogger Chato Stewart selected and caricatured during the month of May. Did your favorite mental health hero make this week’s video?

Several of this week's heroes suffer from either depression or bipolar disorder. (Although perhaps "suffer" is the wrong kind of terminology to use here -- these folks are recovering and thriving!)

The caricatures are a lot of fun to look at and to compare with each Heroes’ original photograph. Kudos to Chato for this unique and creative way of honoring those who are involved in mental health advocacy!

You can watch the video below:
Continue Reading

Video: Chato Stewart’s Mental Health Hero Caricatures (Part 2)

Do you have a mental health-related hero?

Maybe it's your favorite psychotherapist. Or your brother with PTSD. Or your Psych 101 instructor.

Blogger Chato Stewart has plenty. This week’s video honors the second batch of “Mental Health Heroes” that he selected and caricatured during the month of May. Did your favorite mental health hero make this week’s video?

The caricatures are a lot of fun to look at and to compare with each Heroes’ original photograph. Kudos to Chato for this unique and creative way of...
Continue Reading

Video: Chato Stewart’s Mental Health Hero Caricatures

As you may know, May was Mental Health Awareness Month.

Is May over now? Well, yes.

Should we forget all about mental health awareness now? No. Of course not!

With that in mind, this week's video honors 9 of the 33 "Mental Health Heroes" that Chato Stewart selected and caricatured during the month of May. Did your favorite mental health hero make this week's video? (If not, patience! I promise the rest will come soon.)

The caricatures are a lot of fun to look at and to...
Continue Reading

General

Video: A Warm-Weather Mindfulness Activity

Happy Autumn! The leaves are beginning to change colors and there's a cozy chill in the air that invites jackets and light scarves. Isn't it nice?

Just kidding.

But did you stop for a second to look at the calendar? You know, just to make sure that May through September didn't blindly pass you by?

You can't find seasons at the Lost and Found



It's true: you can miss an entire season if you're not paying attention. Have you ever taken a shower (yes, I hope, but let me continue...) in which you're completely blind to the fact that you're even taking a shower until the second you shut off the tap?

This is what happens when we let our minds hang in the past or scurry to the future. We forget where we are, what we're doing, and what the present moment holds for us.

Continue Reading

Disorders

Joshua’s Story: Living with Schizophrenia

As a woman living with bipolar disorder, I understand mental illness-related stigma. I understand the damage it causes and the impact it can have on a person’s quality of life. But I cannot tell you that I understand the stigma associated with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is, without a doubt, the most stigmatized mental illness.

Bipolar disorder often is associated with intelligence, creativity, highs and lows. But schizophrenia is viewed differently. Society often is confronted with negative imagery: A homeless man or woman, dirt under their fingernails, mumbling to themselves; bars on hospital windows where they are confined and, above all, violence.

The stigma connected to schizophrenia, and to those who live with the illness, is different from that connected to people living with depression or bipolar disorder. It is harder to shatter; it is harder for people to understand.

Stepping out and putting a face and a name to my illness was anything but easy. But more people are doing this, and in doing so, we can lessen the stigma.

Continue Reading