Mental Health Archives - Unhinged

Unhinged -Show’s Future TBD

by Ed 0 Comments
Unhinged -Show’s Future TBD

Hello Unhinged listeners,

You may have noticed that we have not done a show in a little while. There are multiple reasons for this, some of which are serious enough to bring into question whether we will continue producing episodes regularly.

First, real life gets in the way sometimes and makes it tough to schedule recording and editing time. For example, I was out all last week traveling to the east coast to visit family. There have also been a couple of work events the past few weeks that kept me from being able to even meet with Doug, let alone produce a show.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Doug’s mood has been a bit unpredictable lately. He may be up and feeling great for several days, but then suddenly wake up in low state that takes days to recover from. His doctor tweaked the DBS settings recently, but that is not an exact science and can take months to fully kick in.

During the few up times we’ve had in the past couple of months, we decided to focus on doing something fun and low pressure together, so we recorded some music. We talked about getting a show done during these up times, but felt his mood was still delicate enough that the process of producing the show was just too much pressure. Remember, when we do a show, Doug is usually talking about himself and reliving all the negativity he has been going through. This can be a trigger that could set him back, so that’s why we did a little music therapy instead.

We know that there are listeners who have been helped by our show, and we would love to be able to keep serving the mental health community and being advocates for the removal of the stigma surrounding mental illness. But right now Doug needs to think about his own well-being. It pains us to leave our listeners hanging, but we know that when the stars all align properly again, we can continue our mission in some way.

In the meantime, we will try to continue posting interesting finds about depression, mental illness, and the brain. We might put together a show at some point, but not until we know it won’t adversely affect Doug’s recovery.

Of all the people in the world, we know that our listeners will understand where we’re coming from. We’re still in the fight… it’s just become a little more personal recently.

Thank you for understanding.

-Ed

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Unhinged Episode #059: Stress – The Simple Facts

by Ed 2 Comments
Unhinged Episode #059: Stress – The Simple Facts

On our last show, we discussed how one of Doug’s family members is seriously ill, and that was one of his triggers for his mood dropping. On today’s show, we announce that the family member in question is Doug’s uncle Murray, who was our guest on Episode #10. The thing about Murray, however, is that his entire way of thinking is about changing your beliefs to change your results. His doctors call him an enigma since he’s still alive. Murray attributes this to living a stress-free life.

Murray provided for us his entire philosophy on stress, and we walk through it in this episode. Look below if you want to download some PDFs explaining his whole program. This is what he uses to live a stress-free life, and it might be helpful for those who experience a lot of anxiety and stress in their lives.

This is part one of a series. In two weeks, we will have Murray on the show to answer your questions. If you have any questions you want us to read on the show, please comment below, or reach us at https://www.facebook.com/unhingedpodcast or Twitter at @unhingedpc.

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Square Peg, Round Hole (or How Not to Have Friends and Alienate People)

Square Peg, Round Hole (or How Not to Have Friends and Alienate People)

Hi there! Let’s have a quick show of hands to indicate all the lost and lonely people out there. Don’t worry, this will stay just between us, okay?!? Anyway, one of my biggest personal obstacles is that I have a really hard time building fulfilling, long-lasting interpersonal relationships. At best I’ve only ever managed to sustain one friendship at a time, and that can lead to an excessive amount of introspection and self-condemnation. Having Asperger’s Syndrome has greatly hindered my ability to make these vital connections, in part because I’m not very good at successfully comprehending and interpreting non-verbal forms of communication, i.e., body language. So many of our daily interactions with other people are centred around these wordless transactions, and quite often I feel like a visitor from another world in this regard. Not for nothing, but Asperger’s is sometimes referred to as the “Oops, Wrong Planet Syndrome!!”

As a child I struggled endlessly to fit in and make friends with the other children, but usually this was to no avail. It didn’t help that I was at least 30 years away from a proper diagnosis at that point!! Healthy early socialization is very important in laying the groundwork for future success with one’s peers. As I did not enter the regular public school system until grade two, I was already at a most unfortunate disadvantage (one from which I’ve probably never fully recovered). What seemed to come so naturally to most of the other kids was an infinite crash course in humiliating futility for your not-so-humble author!! Endless social worker sessions, specialized play groups and the like only seemed to make matters worse. Looking back I guess it was a pretty good thing that I enjoyed reading in solitary so much, as I sure had a lot of spare time on my hands to freely indulge my unabashed bookworm ways!

I wish that I could inform you all that things took a turn for the better in my prime teenage/early adulthood years, but to do so would make me a bold-faced liar! The older I grew the more difficulties I had connecting with other people (and PLEASE, don’t get me started on my myriad of insecurities revolving around the FAIRER sex!) Not that I fared any better when it came to relating to everyone else!! The older you get the harder it is to meet new people, let alone to form long-lasting relationships with them as well. Plus, as a card-carrying, life-long social misfit living on the extreme outskirts of the downtrodden fringe, I don’t tend to find myself hobnobbing with the social elite!! All self-deprecating witticisms aside, due to a tragic series of unfortunate events largely beyond my control (yeah, fer sure, that’s what they all say!) I have never even come close to having a peer group of any sort. A lot of my so-called cohorts (in age, I mean) are simply too busy (and most rightfully so!!) pursuing their careers, raising families and enjoying a lot of the ‘normal’ activities’ that regular folks enjoy doing.

By the time I hit my mid-thirties, I decided to renew my previously feeble attempts at interacting with the hoi polloi (but hopefully with improved results!). So what did I do? I entered the conflicting/confusing world of group therapy. Ten years of on/off attendance later, I can’t honestly say that I’m any better for having done so! Yes, I did manage to meet the One True Love of My Life (Hi, Special K!!), and I have also become good friends with Doug (of Unhinged infamy, LOL!) but all other efforts to meet like-minded people have proven to be fruitless (to date, insert sigh here!!). Today I’m currently in the midst of a rather lengthy break from that whole scene, and trying to carefully figure out my next moves on the social scene front. Perhaps I will expand on this topic further in my as yet unwritten/unpublished door-stopper of a book entitled “Book Smart/People Stupid!!” (Trademark forthcoming, by the way. Not!)

P.S., I would strongly advise any lonely hearts from ever calling “867-5309”, no matter how disconnected you might find yourself. There’s not much chance that Jenny will answer, and even if she were to, she’d certainly be in late middle age by now (the song did originally come out way back in 1981, after all!!).

And now, here are five of my favourite songs based on the subject of friendship:

#1. “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” (War)
#2. “Bobby Jean” (Bruce Springsteen)
#3. “Whenever I Call You Friend” (Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks)
#4. “You’re My Best Friend” (Queen)
#5. “With A Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker)

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Relational Memory and the Hippocampus

by Doug 0 Comments

Declarative memory – Memory for facts and events, to be contrasted with procedural memory, which supports the ability to acquire and express skills (or the difference between “knowing that” and “knowing how”). The nature of declarative representations, thought to be fundamentally relational and flexible, makes it possible for such memory to be consciously accessed and “declared”.

Explicit memory – A kind of memory based on explicit remembering or conscious recollection of some prior learning episode, or the kind of memory test that requires explicit remembering; usually defined in contrast to implicit memory, involving the ability of behavior to be influenced by previous experience without requiring the individual to consciously recollect the prior experience.

Recollection – A process that results in the retrieval of additional information about a particular item from memory beyond its oldness; this information could be some detail of the study experience such as the color of the font of the item or its location on the screen, or some internal state at study time, such as what the item reminded you of.

Relational memory – Memory for relations among the constituent elements of experience, providing the ability to remember names with faces, the locations of various objects or people, or the order in which various events occurred. Can be contrasted to item memory, i.e., of the individual elements themselves. The hippocampus is required for memory for arbitrary or accidentally occurring relations.

Place cells – When an animal is exploring its environment, principal neurons of the hippocampus fire preferentially in particular regions of the environment corresponding to the neurons’ “place fields”; in this way, a set of such neurons can represent the entire environment. The “places” are represented relationally, in terms of the relations among elements in the environment.

Source memory – Memory for information about an item beyond the item itself; i.e., its various relations to other elements of the event. In laboratory experiments, this usually refers to the particular location of an item on the computer screen, the color of the font or format in which the item is displayed, or the voice or identity associated with some piece of presented information.

Unitization – The fusing, blending, or configuring of multiple aspects of a sensory array into a single-item representation; thought to be accomplished by cortical regions outside of the hippocampus [such as in the fusiform face area (FFA) for faces, and the perirhinal cortex for some complex objects], and less flexible and less relational than hippocampal representations of multiple objects.

*NCBI -National Center for Biotechnology Information

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Unhinged Episode #058: Chillax

by Ed 1 Comment
Unhinged Episode #058: Chillax

Doug’s personal life has been challenging lately, and this has, in part, been a cause for a mood drop in the last few days. Our plan for this show was to start by playing some music, maybe work on a new intro, and record the show. Instead, Doug told me to just start recording as soon as we got online because he wanted to explain his current mood and some of the triggers behind it.

Being a person with a mental illness is a challenge on any normal day, but when some serious real life issues arise, it can be downright devastating. A close family member of Doug’s is critically ill, and this news has affected him greatly. On top of that, future plans for Doug’s career as a certified peer support counselor are now a bit foggy.

The good news is that during our conversation, it was obvious to me that he was much farther from the ledge than he has been with other recent mood drops. He was not being a complete defeatist, and he was clearly outlining what he knows he should do and not do to get better. In other words, he’s come a long way to being able to manage these drops more successfully. Talking about it with his support system also helps, so he will be reaching out to his siblings.

The bottom line is that he now knows to deal with each issue one at a time, move on to the next, and just chillax.

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Unhinged Episode #057: New Show Schedule

by Ed 1 Comment
Unhinged Episode #057: New Show Schedule

Today’s show is mostly an announcement of our new plan to do a show every other week, rather than weekly. We discuss a few reasons why we decided to test out this new schedule. It should actually be good for both the quality of the show as well as our personal lives.

With Doug feeling mostly better for nearly 4 and a half months now, he’s starting to think beyond the day-to-day challenges and looking more toward his future. We will still meet every week like we normally did to record the show, but now one week will be more about hanging as friends, playing music, and working on future goals. This will also give us the opportunity to potentially improve the show quality by having more time to lineup guests, flesh out facts, or get a little deeper on some subjects.

Toward the end of the show, we included a clip of our pre-show conversation where we discussed some interesting things about anxiety, public speaking, and stagefright. Nothing too detailed, but we figured it was interesting enough to add to this episode and maybe plant a seed for a future, more in depth discussion.

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This is My Brain on Music – ‘Broken Record Machine!’

This is My Brain on Music – ‘Broken Record Machine!’

For as long as I can remember music has been my most constant companion. In fact, several weeks before I was born, my parents went to see a horrible musical adaptation of the 1933 book “Lost Horizon.” Apparently I might have been the only one to enjoy this dog’s breakfast of a flick (whilst still in utero, LOL!!) Not that I can actually remember any of this from nearly 45 years ago, but my mother told me many times throughout her life that ‘I was really kicking up a storm on that fateful evening!’ Both of my parents were immense music lovers, although my father’s musical tastes oddly lent themselves more to his parents’ generation. As my mother’s musical leanings were slightly more hip, as a toddler we spent countless hours together listening to her records. We also spent an inordinate amount of time perfecting our very anachronistic versions of Elaine Benes’ classic dry heave-inducing dance moves!!

As I grew older and my various issues moved to the foreground, music quickly became the one thing that I could truly rely on. I received a transistor radio for my seventh birthday, and this is when I first began to build my unbreakable bond with Rock and Roll. Artists such as Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Queen and Elton John were some of my early favourites. As the years passed i gradually moved on to tape recorders, ghetto blasters, Walkmans, and Discmans; as the technology steadily evolved, so too did my musical evolution. As a teenager I became fascinated with Jazz-Fusion, Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal, all vastly UNDERRATED genres as far as I’m concerned!!! I think that I gravitated towards these genres the most because of their complexity and often interesting time signatures. Return To Forever, Jean-Luc Ponty, Allan Holdsworth and Herbie Hancock are among my preferences in this heady musical realm.

Throughout my twenties and thirties life presented me with a relentless series of difficult challenges (sick parents, stressful living conditions, unfulfilled self-expectations and an overall sense of general malaise.) During these emotionally-stressful times, building my musical collection became my primary goal/coping mechanism. While this might seem petty and pointless to many, FOR ME, it provided an essential reason to carry on living. To date my musical archive probably numbers close to 10,000 pieces, likely split evenly between cassettes and compact discs. As much as I enjoyed seeking out and collecting this TREASURE TROVE, the downside is the amount of physical space it takes up and the exorbitant storage fees which occur as a result!! Yes, I could perhaps make the switch to streaming and the like, but I am far too attached to the tactile physicality of my collection to ever even surrender an inch!! I guess we all have our own particular version of a sin tax! Mine won’t kill me, but I just might eventually be found one day under a towering pile of musty ‘n’ mouldy CD booklets!!!

It’s often said that people on the Spectrum can develop a very strong bond with music. I shudder to even think what my life would have been like if I had not gone down this melodic path. Sadly we seem to be living in a time in which popular music has basically been reduced to an endless AUTO-TUNED parade of Ikea-approved, FACELESS zeroes and ones!! Hopefully I will live long enough to see a return to a greater appreciation of/for legitimate musical talent, and that REAL/TRUE ARTISTS will receive both their Artistic and Commercial Due(s).

In closing, here are my 5 favorite songs about music:

  1. “I Love Music” by the O’Jays
  2. “Let There Be Rock” by AC/DC
  3. “Long Live Rock” by The Who
  4. “Magic Power” by Triumph
  5. “Keep Playin’ that Rock & Roll” by Edgar Winter’s White Trash

 

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Unhinged Episode #056: Spectrum With Attitude

by Ed 3 Comments
Unhinged Episode #056: Spectrum With Attitude

This week we welcome special guest Avery, a friend of the show’s, and to us. Avery and Doug share a connection through both being somewhere on the spectrum. Technically, Avery is toward the Asperger’s side. We discuss when and how each of them were first diagnosed, and how they have managed to overcome some of their challenges.

We also chat about the “gifts” that many people on the spectrum have and how it can sometimes be more of a curse. We’ve talked about Doug’s hyperfocusing abilities, and Avery has an eidetic memory and can recall facts with extreme accuracy. We did put Avery to the test trying to recall what year certain songs came out, and he was impressive!

Ultimately, people on the spectrum learn differently, so early and accurate diagnosis can help put them on the right path. Awareness is key!

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Unhinged Episode #055: Perspective

by Ed 1 Comment
Unhinged Episode #055: Perspective

On this week’s episode, we discuss how important perspective is to live a positive life. Doug has been realizing how the little positive things in life make a big difference if you stop to appreciate them. Focusing on the positives, no matter how small, helps push out the negatives.

Doug also brings up whether he should ask his brother and sister why they did not visit him during his brain surgery in 2012. During that time, he was estranged from his family, partially due to a lack of understanding on their part about the disease, and partially because of how deep a depression he was going through then. With Doug’s newly found positive perspective, and his family coming around to what mental illness is all about, he feels it might be the right time to find out what was going through their minds during that time, with no judgment on his part. They are different people now who are part of Doug’s support system, and the past is “water under the bridge”. He plans to talk about it with them soon.

Quick note: This episode opens with a short guitar jam that Doug put together with his new Fender rig. It’s simply Doug letting loose and experimenting, which shows how far he’s come lately. Here’s to hope in 2018!

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Unhinged Episode #054: Open Your Presence

by Ed 3 Comments
Unhinged Episode #054: Open Your Presence

In our first episode of 2018, we start with a short and fun guitar jam, which highlights the mood for the new year. Doug is feeling much better, and after receiving the love and generosity from some of our friends and listeners, he’s entering the new year on a wave of positivity.

The bulk of this episode was recorded on January 2nd, which happened to be my birthday. Doug contacted me and said he had some things to say that should be recorded for the show, so I went ahead and recorded our conversation. For Christmas, I got Doug a Fender Squier guitar and a Fender amp. His acoustic guitar, though a beautiful instrument, was not totally filling his void for musical expression, and his last electric guitar had to be sold last year for financial reasons (plus it ended up not being the guitar he thought it would be anyway). In any case, getting a Fender back in his hands was enough to trigger a positive psychological change.

We mostly talk about music and guitars in this episode, but the underlying tone is one of hope. Doug talks about self-care and how to try to stay positive by surrounding yourself with a strong support system.

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