OSMI Blog

Summer 2018 Updates!

Author: Joe Ferguson
August 3rd, 2018

2018 Survey

We have been busy! We have spent the spring and summer! Volunteer & speaker Jenna Quindica went to Heartifacts conference, and also spoke at Docker in a partnership with OSMI and went to Dockercon 2018 representing OSMI! Joe Ferguson gave a keynote during WordCamp Dayton, gave his mental health talk at Mid-Atlantic Dev Con and PHP Detroit. Matt Trask spoke at WordCamp Kent. Nara Kasenberg gave a mental health keynote at Mid-Atlantic Dev Con. Volunteer J.D. Flynn also spoke at PHP Detroit about mental health. Arthur Doler spoke at NDC Oslo.

So far in 2018 OSMI has sponsored php[tek], Midwest PHP 2018, PHP Detroit, Mid-Atlantic Developer Conference, Madison PHP, Cascadia PHP, Wave PHP, Southeast Ruby, Southeast PHP as well as covering speaker travel costs to various events!

We'll do all our shopping via Amazon, and now you can support Open Sourcing Mental Illness whenever you purchase anything from Amazon.

Amazon Smile is a program where Amazon donates a small % of every sale to a non-profit of your choice. There is no extra cost to you! Just remember to shop Amazon from our Amazon Smile Link.

Starting a More Positive Conversation Around Mental Health

Author: Keely Carney
July 31st, 2018

It's 11:27 am & I grin as I move a Trello card & close my laptop. 3 minutes to spare. I give my CEO a nod & I'm off.

It's Tuesday, which means I'm heading to my weekly women's recovery group. Here's what makes this scenario interesting: everyone in the office knows it. They don't just know I'll be out for the next two hours. They know that I'll be sitting with a group of women, talking about my sobriety.

How do they know? I told them.

Here's my story: like most people struggling with mental illness, I've spent the majority of my life feeling deeply uncomfortable in my skin & in this world.

At various times in my life, that manifested in different ways. Early on, it was eating disorders & body image issues. Later, it was addiction. Then in recovery, without my self-destructive crutches, it was chronic & persistent depression.

Then, by some stroke of good fortune, I found freedom. From both my conditions (mostly) & the shame around them (90% of the time). Mental well-ish-ness, if you will.

Is it too corny to say I fixed my buggy mental code? Or does it only become too corny when I try to draw a parallel to open sourcing by saying a large community of helpers contributed to fixing my buggy mental code?

Alas, it happened. And with it came another kind of freedom: I got comfortable speaking about what my experiences & what I do to stay well-ish.

Now I do any chance I get. Why? Because I think it is extremely important to change the conversation about mental health.

The change I want to see? More solution-oriented empowerment.

We need to acknowledge that we're all humans. As such, we all have brains & nervous systems. And, due to some combination of nature & nurture, some of us just happen to have a few glitches in our systems.

It doesn't mean our systems are unsalvageable. It just means we have to do a little bit of work to figure out what's going on.

But we can do that work.

Then, once we do, we can share the solutions we've found. We can say things like "Hey, going to support groups really helps me. The one I like best is on Tuesdays at noon. Can we figure out a way that I can be offline for a couple of hours midday Tuesday?"

By doing so, we give other people permission to pursue their own solutions.

And here's something that's really magical: we all get to honor where we are on our journeys. Some of us haven't found the solutions that work for our unique circumstances yet. That's not just okay, that's exactly where all of us start.

That's when we get to say things like, "I saw that OSMI has a booth at the conference I'm going to. I'm going to stop by & talk to them to get some resources."

Pretty cool, eh?

About the author: once upon a time, Keely worked in digital marketing, where she discovered a love for open dialogues about mental health. She then worked as a Recovery Coach before merging both worlds & founding Mental Health Mugs. If you’re on board with starting a more positive conversation about mental health, you can get a mug at www.mentalhealthmugs.com. If you use discount code OSMI, you’ll get 10% off your order + 10% of the purchase price will be donated to OSMI!

Study Finds No Link Between Birth Control and Depression

Author: Beth Tucker Long
July 19th, 2018

A new meta-analysis study has taken the research from 26 different studies and analyzed them for quality, bias, and results. Published in the reproductive health journal, Contraception, researchers Brett L. Worly, Tamar L. Gur, and Jonathan Schaffir concluded that there is no increase in clinical depression when patients begin using the progestin contraceptives included in these studies. However, it is important to note that every patient is affected differently, so if you begin taking birth control and feel differently or depressed, you should talk to your health care provider immediately. Additionally, one of the studies analyzed, which they categorized as good-quality and medium-bias, did show an association between progestin-only pills, the intrauterine device, and depression, so further study of more types and combinations of birth control are necessary. One of the researchers, Brett L. Worly, noted that their study only looked at clinically-recognized signs of depression, which are different from mood changes and a sense of depressed mood, so the widespread perception that starting or switching birth control increases depression could still be true for non-clinical depression symptoms. Read more in this article in Women’s Health or view the published study in Contraception.

Disrupted Circadian Rhythms Could Hurt Your Mental Health

Author: Beth Tucker Long
July 17th, 2018

A new study published in The Lancet found an association between disrupted circadian rhythms and mental health issues like major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. The study looked at 91,000 people and whether they had a standard circadian rhythm (active in the day, resting at night) or a disrupted one (resting in the day, active at night). Those with a disrupted circadian rhythm were 6 to 10 percent more likely to have a mental health issue diagnosis. "The study tells us the body clock is really important for mood disorders and should be given greater priority in research and in [the] way we organize societies," Daniel Smith, co-author of the study and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow, told the BBC. You can read more about the study on BBC News or view the published study on The Lancet.

The Doorway to Better Stuff

Author: Beth Tucker Long
July 12th, 2018

Clark Gregg easily shines on the screen as Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but off screen, relaxing did not come as easily. “During the really stressful periods of work — whether it was a movie with big action, or an emotional scene where you have to deliver, or the nine-month, 22-episode relentlessness of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — I was really okay. But when I would try to relax, I found that I would go into a different space that didn’t feel right. I felt anxious, but kind of disassociated, and I didn’t understand what was going on”, Gregg recalls.

After seeing a variety of Eastern and Western doctors, Gregg had no answers, but was still struggling to relax. After suffering for 5 years, Gregg spent some time investigating his symptoms online and discovered a book that changed his outlook on his symptoms and gave him a way to positively address them. Barry McDonagh’s book, Dare, introduced Gregg to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which centers around developing personal coping strategies to change unhelpful patterns around the anxiety rather than stopping the anxiety.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy was a game-changer for me, and remains a game-changer. I find it calming to know that wherever I am, I don’t have to wonder if I have a pill nearby; I just know I can do these exercises, and it's going to become manageable”, Gregg says. “CBT is really a miracle. I've seen it help a lot of people, and one of the reasons I’m speaking out is that I don’t feel like enough people know it.“

Gregg is working on becoming more open about his mental health strategies and hopes to help others learn about CBT. “…mental health issues don’t always feel good. But they don't have to ruin your life, either — they can really be the doorway to better stuff.” Read Jordyn Taylor’s interview with Clark Gregg on Men’s Health.

Pay Attention to Side Effects of Medication

Author: Joe Ferguson
July 10th, 2018

Medication is always a hot topic in the world of mental health. I take medications every day to manage my depression and anxiety, and while they're working for me, it doesn't mean medication is a silver bullet solution. Many people take medications which increase their risk for depression. A recent NPR article mentions one in three adults in the US take medication linked to depression. The article specifically mentions “...Prilosec or Zantac for acid reflux, a beta blocker for high blood pressure, or Xanax for anxiety, you may be increasing your risk of depression..." While you may not be taking medication for depression, you may be taking something that lists depression as a side effect. If you are taking medication, check the side effects and make sure you are staying on top of your mental health. Consult your doctor if you notice any signs of depression.

The article also goes on to describe the original investigation and the key points:

Question:  How frequently do US adults use prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect and is use of these medications associated with concurrent depression?

Findings:  In this cross-sectional US population-based survey study conducted between 2005 and 2014, the estimated overall prevalence of US adults using medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was 37.2%. The adjusted percentage of adults with concurrent depression was higher among those using more concurrent medications (e.g., estimated 15% for ≥3 medications).

Meaning:  Use of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect was common and associated with a greater likelihood of concurrent depression.

Always consult your doctor about side effects and remember you can talk to your pharmacist at your local pharmacy. I've had several conversations with mine to discuss side effects and warning signs. Don't forget to include your doctor in these conversations as well.

You Are Not Alone

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 28th, 2018

If you suffer from depression, you are not alone, and we have the data to back that up. According to new data released by Blue Cross Blue Shield, depression diagnoses among their 41 million customers is on the rise. Major depression has risen to a diagnosis rate of 4.4% in the United States, which is more than 9 million people. Comparing data from 2013 to data from 2016, Blue Cross Blue Shield has seen an increase in depression diagnoses in every age category. The largest jump was in ages 12 to 17 with a 63% increase followed by ages 18 to 35 with a 47% increase.

It’s important to note the data only contains information from people insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield, so while it is a large data set, it is not necessarily representative of the population at large. Additionally, the increases could be due to more people coming forward with their symptoms rather than an increase in depression.

You can learn more about the findings from Women’s Health, or you can view the survey data directly on the Blue Cross Blue Shield website

The Power of Saying Things Out Loud

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 26th, 2018

Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers never considered his mental health important until one day, he had a panic attack mid-game.

“I was running from room to room, like I was looking for something I couldn’t find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, You’re about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe,” he recalls of the game.

Afterward, he started going back to his old ways of burying his mental health and ignoring it, but then questioned: “Why was I so concerned with people finding out?” He took this new found feeling and decided to meet with a therapist.

Love realized, “… it’s kind of strange when you think about it. In the NBA, you have trained professionals to fine-tune your life in so many areas. Coaches, trainers and nutritionists have had a presence in my life for years. But none of those people could help me in the way I needed when I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe.”

The therapist helped Love talk through his issues off the court that were affecting his ability to perform on the court. Digging down into the layers, Love realized how much he had been burying and even how much pain and anxiety he had been harboring from his grandmother’s death.

Love now meetings with his therapist whenever he is in town, saying “…it’s not some magical process. It’s terrifying and awkward and hard, at least in my experience so far. I know you don’t just get rid of problems by talking about them, but I’ve learned that over time maybe you can better understand them and make them more manageable.”

Love has noticed other players, like DeMar DeRozan opening up about mental health and hopes to do the same, saying “..creating a better environment for talking about mental health … that’s where we need to get to.”

Read more of his story in his own words on The Players’ Tribune.

Mental Health Tattoos

Author: Joe Ferguson
June 21st, 2018

May was Mental Health month, and MensHealth.com posted the gallery 8 Guys Share the Powerful Stories Behind Their Mental Health Tattoos. After SunshinePHP 2017 I came home with the idea to finally get a semicolon tattoo. The semicolon project hits pretty close to home for me. I love the idea of stopping to pause and reflect. At SunshinePHP that year, I saw three or four different people with semicolon tattoos---it pushed me over the edge. I got my semicolon done and loved it.

semi-colon tattoo

The next thing I wanted to do was pay homage to the OSMI round logo. I’ve always loved our logo and I felt like that was the next tattoo for me. Right before php[tek] 2018, I got the badge logo done.

OSMI logo tattoo

The next step is to continue the mental health sleeve I started. There’s no telling how big I’ll go, but it’s a nice start; maybe I’ll add some color next.

While the semicolon will remind me to relax and breathe, the hands together remind me we’re all stronger than the fear that keeps us from talking about mental health openly and honestly. Since OSMI has been such a big part of my life the past year, it felt right to place it next to the semicolon.

Do you have a mental health related tattoo? Share it with us on twitter or facebook. We’d love to see it and hear your story!

Support OSMI While Improving Your Language

Author: Beth Tucker Long
June 19th, 2018

Looking for a fun way to support OSMI while improving inclusivity? The Ableist Jar is similar to a swear jar, where you drop a dollar into the jar each time you use a restricted word or phrase, and while the premise is based around donating money each time you use ableist language, the actual goal of this site is to raise awareness of ableist language. With The Ableist Jar, you can self-monitor if you prefer or get a group of friends or colleagues together and help hold each other accountable. It’s not always easy to notice when you use ableist language, so it can help to have others paying attention and helping you recognize when it occurs. The Ableist Jar was created by Nicolas Steenhout after — in his words — “a throwaway tweet” gained momentum. While this idea did not start out serious, the fruition of this project could make a serious difference in the lives and language of many, and all while benefiting OSMI’s work to educate and raise awareness about mental health. Visit The Ableist Jar to learn more about ableist language and what you can do to make your language more inclusive.