Memoir Mental Health Personal Growth

Read Wintering

Read Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult T…

Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

Liked some of this, wasn’t sure about other parts. The second half I liked better than the first. She has a keen eye for observation and describes her feelings vividly. I liked the bits of other places and natural history — dabbling in other people’s cultures less so. I’m not sure it all pulled together for me though I thought she ended it well.

Art and Design Cool Mental Health

Looking at art makes your brain happier

Liked Canadian Doctors Will Soon Be Able to Prescribe Museum Visits as Treatment by Molly EnkingMolly Enking (Smithsonian Magazine)

Hélène Boyer explains that museum visits have been shown to increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter colloquially known as the “happy chemical” due to its mood-boosting properties…According to Boyer, the uptick in hormones associated with enjoying an afternoon of art is similar to that offered by exercise…

Also in Brussels this year

So there’s a chemical reason I like going to museums 😂

Curious if anyone has studied whether the effects hold from a virtual visit 🤔

Getting Shit Done Mental Health

Watched How My Mental Health Affects My Productivity

Watched Mental Health And Productivity: A Peek Inside My Journey by Sarra CannonSarra Cannon from

Mental health is a topic close to my heart, because my own journey toward my goals has been as much about mental health as anything else. Today’s video is a casual, real chat about how my mental health affects my productivity, what my journey has been like up to this moment, and how I’m working […]

Anxiety and depression do impact your productivity

Task clarity — bite-size actions identified in advance that help her feel like she’s making progress towards her “dream future”

  • appreciate small joys
  • focus on physical basics — sleep enough, eat well
  • pay attention to your behavior — look for triggers of negative spirals
  • acknowledge your tough days, let yourself do simple tasks when feeling bad
  • pay attention to negative self-talk
Mental Health Self Care Society The Internet

Read Notes on a Nervous Planet

Read Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.

Very casual writing style, like a collection of blog posts (even listicles 😂). I don’t have as much trouble as he does with phone use, but can relate to the overall overwhelming information intake of the internet and the constant marketing pressures. Enjoyed reading through this slowly. Complementary to Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks.

Health Mental Health

Anxiety and depression increase risk of long COVID

Bookmarked Psychological, not physical factors linked to long COVID (

“We were surprised by how strongly psychological distress before a COVID-19 infection was associated with an increased risk of long COVID,” said Siwen Wang, a researcher in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School who led the study. “Distress was more strongly associated with developing long COVID than physical health risk factors such as obesity, asthma, and hypertension.”

[D]istress before COVID-19 infection, including depression, anxiety, worry, perceived stress, and loneliness, was associated with a 32 percent to 46 percent increased risk of long COVID. These types of psychological distress were also associated with 15 percent to 51 percent greater risk of daily life impairment due to long COVID.

I hate self-fulfilling prophesies.

Link to paper:

Associations of Depression, Anxiety, Worry, Perceived Stress, and Loneliness Prior to Infection With Risk of Post–COVID-19 Conditions by Wang etc al, JAMA Psychiatry (2022)

Mental Health

Happiness and unhappiness should be measured separately

Bookmarked Happiness Is Two Scales by Uri (Atoms vs Bits)

The common way to talk about happiness is as a single scale: unhappy at one end, neutral in the middle, happy at the other end. I think that model is wrong.

If someone (including yourself) is struggling with low well-being, it’s important to ascertain which of two problems are happening:

  • not enough happiness
  • too much unhappiness

This is interesting and resonates with where I am now:

Removing unhappiness doesn’t actually increase happiness, it just…. removes unhappiness, which is good but unrelated.

Now that I am free of a stressful situation, I have space to add more happiness, but filling that opening with positive feelings isn’t a given.


Re-read Love in the Light

Read Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness, #2)

Makenna James and Caden Grayson have been inseparable since the scorching night they were trapped in a pitch-black elevator. But they’re not strangers anymore, and Makenna hopes that night put them on the path to forever. All that stands in the way is introducing her tattooed, pierced, and scarred boyfriend to her father and over-protective brothers.

Must fight for love in the light…

Haunted by a childhood tragedy and the loss of his family, Caden never thought he’d find the kind of red-hot love he shares with Makenna. But the deeper he falls, the more he fears the devastation sure to come when he loses her, too. When secrets are revealed and the past threatens the present, Caden questions whether Makenna deserves more than he can give. Maybe they’re just too different—and he’s far too damaged—after all…

I liked this better than the first time I read it six years ago. I appreciate having a hero who struggles with his mental health but finds a way through.

Mental Health Society The Internet

Mental Health as Community, Identity, and Marketing Target

Bookmarked The BuzzFeedification of Mental Health by P.E. Moskowitz (Mental Hellth)

Did you know that the founder of BuzzFeed predicted that we’d all be yelling at each other about ADHD 25 years ago (kinda)?

Interesting theory that different diagnoses of mental health have been promoted as additional unique identities to be marketed to, though I’m not sure I’m quite that cynical (shocking honestly) / I feel like people gravitate towards like groups and want to identify and build community with others like them, and they are the ones reinforcing those micro-identities as they call them (even if corporations may have encouraged pathologizing neurotypical behaviors in the DSM). Identity politics and grouping are linked with the Internet beyond just mental health. I do appreciate the connection that capitalism feeds on identity.

The social model of disability fits neurodivergence as well as physical disability; it is society that makes other ways of thinking and acting unacceptable or more challenging. But, not sold on diagnosis being equivalent to a BuzzFeed quiz. Even for a changing condition, identifying the source of the challenge can in itself help treat the issue, or allow self-acceptance and compassion that improves other aspects of someone’s life. Realizing your brain is working in a way that it is not helpful to you can start a path of change. And for something like ADHD that reflects differences in brain chemistry, it is something that is part of how you are forever, even if it at some point is not a disability. (Or are they positing that neurodiversity shouldn’t be broken down or classified because diagnoses are too restrictive and reductive? You become more like the parameters of the identity you choose?) For me, anxiety and depression are ways of thinking that I have moved in and out of at different times in my life, and it is useful to know my brain tends that way so I can watch for early warning signs that I’m slipping back in and may need help.

Humor Mental Health

Read Broken

Read Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, Jenny brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way.

With people experiencing anxiety and depression now more than ever, Jenny humanizes what we all face in an all-too-real way, reassuring us that we’re not alone and making us laugh while doing it. From the business ideas that she wants to pitch to Shark Tank to the reason why Jenny can never go back to the post office, Broken leaves nothing to the imagination in the most satisfying way. And of course, Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor―the Ricky to Jenny’s Lucille Ball―is present throughout.

20% laugh out loud funny

20% entertaining

20% meh

40% mental health, chronic illness, serious stories – dark but eloquent

Her mental health is much worse than mine which always scares me a little that I might get to that level. But her writing about her experiences with depression and anxiety help me accept my own foibles better.

Quotes + Notes

Emphasis mine.

“It’s probably not true. It’s not true.

That first line is what I feel. The second is what I know.”

“My doctor told me that when you finally get into remission from depression you are 350 percent more likely to stay in remission if you exercise thirty minutes a day six times a week.”

“I know that time given to yourself to make yourself healthier is good for you and for everyone around you. I know that it takes time and effort for some of us to stay sane. I know that I’m worth the work and that I should feel grateful that I can take care of myself without feeling guilty. So the next step is moving from knowing to feeling.

“Treat yourself like you would your favorite pet. Plenty of fresh water, lots of rest, snuggles as needed, allow yourself naps.”

“Avoid negativity. That means the news, people, movies. It will all be there when you’re healthy again.”

“Forgive yourself. For being broken. For being you.”

“Give yourself permission to recover.”

“I make the call. I keep the appointment. I work my program. This is the never-ending work of recovery.”

“[S]ometimes you have to do the hard thing. Sometimes you have to say no. Sometimes you have to make waves. Because otherwise you can get swept away.”

“[A]ll small terrors pass. That fear can make you think irrational thoughts. That you are only ever truly trapped when you give up and allow yourself to be. Don’t give up.”

“It’s a strange thing … to be tangled up in things no one else really cares about. To be so busy with worry that your constant back-and-forth looks like utter inaction. To be so afraid of doing something wrong that you end up doing something worse. To be exhausted by a marathon that looks like complete paralysis on the outside but feels like being on both sides of a violent tug-of-war on the inside.”

“And some people, like me, have a shard forever missing, a chasm that goes straight down to the core. Anxiety. It creates a fear—of people, of strangers and friends, and of life. It makes you fragile and vulnerable and you throw up walls so that no one can reach inside, because you have to protect that core. But—and here’s the tricky part—you also have to protect the break … that empty place that you always feel, because that break is what makes you who you are.”

Mental Health Writing

Sometimes Writer’s Block is Depression

Liked Sometimes Writers Block is really Depression by Mary Robinette Kowal (Mary Robinette Kowal)

Previously, I’ve always looked at Writers Block as a way of diagnosing that something has gone wrong with my story. I found that I could examine my reactions to sitting down and that they broke down into a couple of specific areas.

Drowsy — Two sentences in and I’m totally falling asleep
Staring — How long can I look at a blank screen without putting any words down?
Restless — Why am I suddenly in the kitchen doing dishes?
Dithering — There are only so many times I can rewrite the same opening.
With each of those, what’s really going on is that my reader brain is trying to tell my writer brain about its responses to the thing I’m writing.

But there’s a fifth form of writer’s block. And that’s when the urge to go to the chair isn’t even present. When you go, you hate writing. The joy is totally gone when you do write.

This is depression.