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Mental Health

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Who can sleep during all of this?

I’ve always had issues with sleep: One of my earliest memories is wandering around the halls of my childhood home in the middle of the night, unable to get back to bed. Decades later, I’m still doing the same thing.

I’ve tried melatonin and prescription sleeping pills, weighted blankets, eye masks, and rain sounds. I invested in a SAD lamp (which actually is helpful) and supplements to lower my cortisol levels (less helpful). How I’ve slept on a given night will determine my entire day — my mood, my appetite, my ability to work or function as a partner and…


As a pediatric psychiatrist, I see how mental health issues are routinely criminalized in this pernicious cycle

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the courts are finding increasingly novel and cruel ways to criminalize mental health issues. Earlier this month, ProPublica revealed the stunning case of a 15-year-old Black girl with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who was placed in juvenile detention for not doing her homework. The Michigan teen, who was identified in the story by her middle name, Grace, was on probation for separate assault and theft charges from late 2019. …


The little things we’re missing during the pandemic add up to a lot

For weeks now, there has been a lot of pretending going on. I have deployed all kinds of pretending exercises to stop the grief I feel I have no right to have — grief for the loss of so many things. Some will come back: museums, sports, sanity. And some won’t: cherished restaurants, canceled milestones, confusion about who or what is essential.

I pretend a bit when I notice the late afternoon light slanting into my apartment, which I never noticed before, and which now seems to announce itself vehemently, radiating a white, blinding blaze. This living room reverse-eclipse happens…


Anxiety over the pandemic has turned into vitriol. But you can’t be mad at a virus.

Before rows of cars started rolling through America’s cities, with people blocking entrances to hospitals, raising placards, hectoring public officials, and loudly venting about not being able to get their hair done, a single person seemed to capture the mood of the shelter-in-place resistance: Brady Sluder.

“If I get corona, I get corona,” Sluder said in a taped interview during his Florida spring break in March, just as the U.S. was beginning to feel the weight of Covid-19 and physical distancing measures were being implemented across the country. “At the end of the day, I’m not gonna let it stop…


LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

A 46-year-old woman is self-quarantining with her husband one month after he asked for a divorce

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a new GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

Jennifer Anderson-Henry, 46, is facing a divorce that she doesn’t want. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband, referred to here as X to protect his privacy, asked for a divorce just one month before Indiana implemented its shelter-in-place order. They are now living in isolation together as he works on home improvement projects so they can eventually put their house on the market.

On February 16, three days before my birthday…


The art of balancing immense grief with a rich indoor life

A month ago, I had plans. I had a calendar filled with events I looked forward to: a friend’s DJ set, a reporting trip to the Pacific Northwest, a dinner party with my cookbook club. I was feeling burned-out from a dating life that seemed to be going nowhere, but energized professionally. While on the shortlist for the kind of New York-style journalism job that rarely occurs out here in Los Angeles, I remember thinking, It’s going to be a career year. Now we’re all stuck inside, and millions are filing for unemployment. And that journalism job has evaporated, too.


After a family member fell ill with Covid-19, a horse in Pennsylvania became my new best friend

“Where the hell is Alfie’s cancer medication?” my girlfriend asked, frantically searching through her bag as our car sped along the highway. We were driving on Route 80 in Pennsylvania, leafless trees and empty pastures on either side of us, en route to my parents’ cabin, where we hoped to ride out the coronavirus pandemic. It was March 18, and the virus had started to sweep through New York City; between that and the fact that the kitchen sink in our apartment wasn’t working, we decided it was time to head for the hills. …


Vivid dreaming is on the rise as stressed-out brains encounter a mix of sleep, uncertainty, and survival

The week before New York’s stay-at-home order, I dreamed I was at a party on a ship. Tables stacked with desserts were ringed by people I knew and liked from every stage of my life. A motley crew drawn from my subconscious and my Instagram, we were all having a great time. Then the ship caught on fire. We all realized the ship was made entirely of wood, and in a panic, I woke up.

As the Covid-19 pandemic spread to the United States and people began working from home and sheltering in place, friends started telling me they were…


A family in which 6 of 12 siblings were affected presented a unique opportunity for researchers

In early 2016, a friend introduced me to two sisters, Margaret Galvin Johnson and Lindsay Galvin Rauch, now both in their fifties, who were the youngest siblings and the only girls in a Colorado family of 12 children. Of their 10 older brothers, six of them had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

The more I learned about the Galvin family, the more I couldn’t believe their story. It was horrifying. Their oldest brother, Donald, tried to kill his wife before being sent to a state mental hospital more than 20 times over two decades. The seventh son, Joseph, sent threatening letters…


Maintaining sobriety can be extra challenging during a pandemic. Group meetings remind me I’m not alone.

Anyone who has traversed New York after hours is familiar with the ominous state we now find ourselves trapped inside. Wide, empty streets and the eerie silence that now extends well past dawn — the foreboding of still being awake during that fleeting antisocial hour used to be a secret handshake among hard partiers. Now we’re all in it together.

I’ve lived in New York City for the past 15 years. Throughout many of them, I went out every single night. When I first arrived here from Boston, where I went to college, I had a job in fashion. I…

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