A comic that accurately sums up depression and anxiety and the uphill battle of living with them

Sarah Flanigan has been fighting depression since she was 10 years old and anxiety since she was 16. “I wish everyone knew that depression is not something that people can just ‘snap out of,'” she explains. “I mean, if I could ‘snap out of it,’ I would have by now.”

Depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses. Mental illnesses are not “in someone’s head,” they’re not something a person can “just get over,” and they affect so many of us over 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

Despite how common they are, it’s still really difficult to explain to people who may have never experienced a mental illness.

Enter: cute, clever illustrations that get the job done.

Nick Seluk, who creates the amazing comics at The Awkward Yeti, heard from reader Sarah Flanigan. She shared her story of depression and anxiety with him. If it could help even one person, she said, it would be worth it.

Nick turned her story into a fantastic comic that perfectly captures the reality of living with depression and anxiety.

“I’ve been through and seen depression and anxiety in action, and thought Sarah’s story was so perfectly simple,” he told me. “We all get sick physically and mentally, but we need to be open to talking (and laughing) about [it].”

I couldn’t agree more, and I think this comic will resonate with a lot of people.

Simple yet powerful, right?

“The hardest part of living with depression and anxiety for me is feeling like I have to hide it,” Sarah said. “I’ve always been known as the happy one in my group of friends. Everyone’s always so shocked when I tell them I have depression or they see the self-harm scars.”

“It’s much harder than it should be to say, ‘Hey, I have depression and I’ve been struggling with self-harm since I was 10 and I just really need your support to get me through tonight,'” Sarah explained.

Let’s all keep working to make it easier for our friends, family members, and ourselves to get support. Let’s keep talking about it.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/a-comic-that-accurately-sums-up-depression-and-anxiety-and-the-uphill-battle-of-living-with-them?c=tpstream

This Is How You Love Someone With Anxiety

Someone with anxiety is inclined to assume everyone is going to leave. So much so, sometimes they might be the ones to ruin a relationship. The truth is they battle something they cant control and there is a sense of insecurity within themselves when it comes to relationships. They know its difficult and they dont want to burden you with their irrational thoughts and worries. So instead, they push you away before you get the chance to leave yourself.

Remember theyre worth fighting for.

It might be hard sometimes. There might be stupid fights of scenarios theyve created in their own head. But more than anything, they’re worth fighting for. The toughest people usually are. And if you can fight with them through this, itll come back to you ten folds.

The phrase, Its okay, can never be used enough.

Its two words. Two words that stop every thought running through their head. And honestly, you can never say it enough.

Sometimes you just have to listen.

Theyre going to play out these situations in their mind. Theyre going to jump from point A to point B and sometimes youre not even going to know how they got there. The best thing you can do is let them go off on their tangent. Even if theres no solution or a fear they worry about in the future, the act of listening will help.

Dont tell them, ‘youre overreacting.’

To you, it might seem irrational. But to them whatever they open up to you about, it’s something that actually keeps them up at night. So just take it as best you can.

They probably wont sleep through the night.

Whether it takes them a while to fall asleep or stay asleep, youll be woken up by them at 3 am as they lay there wide awake. Just hold them close and the comfort in your presence might be enough to get them back to sleep.

Remember its not that they dont trust you. Theyre scared.

You say its an ex and in their mind, they jump to cheating. You say its a friend and in their mind, its someone trying to break you too up. Its not you and your relationship that isnt trusted, its every worse case scenario automatically playing out in their head and they hate themselves for it.

Answering texts timely does help more than you know.

Youve probably noticed they answer embarrassingly fast and they know not everyone is like them but it helps when people understand it. It helps when you say I cant talk now this is why Ill text you later. Silence kills anyone with anxiety. It creates problems in their mind that arent even there. It ends in apologies that arent even needed. And it adds a layer of stress to their life they wish they could control.

Dont be mad if they send a double text.

You might turn your phone on, to four texts. If you can remember its not that theyre trying to be annoying. They care. They care too much and they know it makes them look bad.

Sometimes they just wont be up for going out.

They might cancel last minute or freeze in the middle of a night out and just not be able to do it. If they tell you they have to leave dont feel a sense of guilt or obligation to go with them. Just know they tried and for whatever reason, they couldnt handle it. What sets people with anxiety off can be many things but for a lot of people, parties in which they dont know someone ends in two ways, theyll either be quiet and awkward or youll be carrying them out as they chose vodka to ease their worries.

Accept their apologies even you don’t understand.

Whether its a night out gone wrong, a triple text, saying or doing the wrong thing, they are so observant. They will pick up on the slightest shift in you and before you even realize you might be upset and they will apologize for it.

Help when you can but know when you can’t.

They would rather have ten meltdowns, biting off more than they can chew and they will never admit they can’t handle something. Theyll always say yes. Theyll never turn anyone away. And in those moments where it seems like they are going to fall apart and break just hold them. Help them if you can but know they’re inclined to not ask for help. They’re used to dealing with things on their own.

Once trust is gained theyll love you unbelievably hard.

While uncompleted to lists, plans getting messed up, texts going answered, might overwhelm someone with anxiety, if there is something they are good at it’s love. If theres something they’re strong in, its their ability to show you how much they adore and appreciate you. It might take them a while to trust you but once they do their capacity to love you will fill you in ways, you didnt know you were empty or even missing something.

Read more: http://thoughtcatalog.com/kirsten-corley/2017/01/this-is-how-you-love-someone-with-anxiety/

Queen Elizabeth Prepares To Abdicate Throne To Make Way For Prince Charles As King

This will be a huge change!!!

According to royal sources in

The Queen is, of course, 92 years old right now — and even tough she’s in generally good health, it’s said that she has told her inner circle of plans to hang up her crown at the age of 95, and pass on the role to Prince Charles.

Robert Jobson, the royal commentator for the Daily Mail, had this to say about the early plans being made for the move (below):

“I have spoken to a number of high-ranking courtiers who made it clear that preparations for a transition are moving ahead at pace. They have all confirmed that a Regency with Charles taking the lead is now, at the very least, a real possibility.”

Wow.

That’s a big move!

Photos: Prince Harry & Meghan Markle’s Love Story!

One senior former member of the Royal Household also added more information about the Queen and her apparent decision to wind things down in her rule (below):

“Out of the profound respect the Queen holds for the institution of monarchy and its stewardship, Her Majesty would want to make sure that she has done everything she can for her country and her people before she hands over. She is dutiful to her core. … Her Majesty is mindful of her age and wants to make sure when the time comes, the transition of the Crown is seamless. I understand the Queen has given the matter considerable thought and believes that, if she is still alive at 95, she will seriously consider passing the reign to Charles.”

Impressive!

What do U think, Perezcious readers?!

Big deal, or what???

Let us know your thoughts in the comments (below)!!!

[Image via WENN.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2017-08-13-queen-elizabeth-prepares-abdicate-throne-prince-charles-king-royal-family-news

Are smartphones really making our children sad?

US psychologist Jean Twenge, who has claimed that social media is having a malign affect on the young, answers critics who accuse her of crying wolf

Last week, the childrens commissioner, Anne Longfield, launched a campaign to help parents regulate internet and smartphone use at home. She suggested that the overconsumption of social media was a problem akin to that of junk-food diets. None of us, as parents, would want our children to eat junk food all the time double cheeseburger, chips, every day, every meal, she said. For those same reasons, we shouldnt want our children to do the same with their online time.

A few days later, former GCHQ spy agency chief Robert Hannigan responded to the campaign. The assumption that time online or in front of a screen is life wasted needs challenging. It is driven by fear, he said. The best thing we can do is to focus less on the time they spend on screens at home and more on the nature of the activity.

This exchange is just one more example of how childrens screentime has become an emotive, contested issue. Last December, more than 40 educationalists, psychologists and scientists signed a letter in the Guardian calling for action on childrens screen-based lifestyles. A few days later, another 40-odd academics described the fears as moral panic and said that any guidelines needed to build on evidence rather than scaremongering.

Faced with these conflicting expert views, how should concerned parents proceed? Into this maelstrom comes the American psychologist Jean Twenge, who has written a book entitled iGen: Why Todays Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us.

If the books title didnt make her view clear enough, last weekend an excerpt was published in the American magazine the Atlantic with the emotive headline Have smartphones destroyed a generation? It quickly generated differing reactions that were played out on social media these could be broadly characterised as praise from parents and criticism from scientists. In a phone interview and follow-up emails, Twenge explained her conclusions about the downsides of the connected world for teens, and answered some of her critics.

The Atlantic excerpt from your book was headlined Have smartphones destroyed a generation? Is that an accurate reflection of what you think?
Well, keep in mind that I didnt write the headline. Its obviously much more nuanced than that.

So why did you write this book?
Ive been researching generations for a long time now, since I was an undergraduate, almost 25 years. The databases I draw from are large national surveys of high school and college students, and one of adults. In 2013-14 I started to see some really sudden changes and at first I thought maybe these were just blips, but the trends kept going.

Id never seen anything like it in all my years of looking at differences among generations. So I wondered what was going on.

What were these sudden changes for teens?
Loneliness and depressive symptoms started to go up, while happiness and life satisfaction started to go down. The other thing that I really noticed was the accelerated decline in seeing friends in person it falls off a cliff. Its an absolutely stunning pattern Id never seen anything like that. I really started to wonder, what is going on here? What happened around 2011-2012 [the survey data is a year or two behind] that would cause such sudden changes?

And you concluded these changes were being brought about by increased time spent online?
The high-school data detailed how much time teens spend online on social media and games and I noticed how that correlated with some of these indicators in terms of happiness, depression and so on.

I was curious not just what the correlations were between these screen activities, mental health and wellbeing, but what were the links with non-screen activities, like spending time with friends in person, playing sports, going to religious services, doing homework, all these other things that teens do?

And for happiness in particular, the pattern was so stark. Of the non-screen activities that were measured, they all correlated with greater happiness. All the screen activities correlated with lower happiness.

Youve called these post-millennials the iGeneration. What are their characteristics?
Im defining iGen as those born between 1995 and 2012 that latter date could change based on future data. Im reasonably certain about 1995, given the sudden changes in the trends. It also happens that 1995 was the year the internet was commercialised [Amazon launched that year, Yahoo in 1994 and Google in 1996], so if you were born in that year you have not known a time without the internet.

But the introduction of the smartphone, exemplified by the iPhone, which was launched in 2007, is key?
There are a lot of differences some are large, some are subtle, some are sudden and some had been building for a while but if I had to identify what really characterises them, the first influence is the smartphone.

iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence with the smartphone. This has led to many ripple effects for their wellbeing, their social interactions and the way they think about the world.

Psychology
Psychology professor Jean Twenge. Photograph: Gregory Bull/AP

Why are you convinced they are unhappy because of social media, rather than it being a case of the unhappy kids being heavier users of social media?
That is very unlikely to be true because of very good research on that very question. There is one experiment and two longitudinal studies that show the arrow goes from social media to lower wellbeing and not the other way around. For example, an experiment where people
gave up Facebook for a week and had better wellbeing than those who had not.

The other thing to keep in mind is that if you are spending eight hours a day with a screen you have less time to spend interacting with friends and family in person and we know definitively from decades of research that spending time with other people is one of the keys to emotional wellbeing; if youre doing that less, thats a very bad sign.

A professor at Oxford University tweeted that your work is a non-systematic review of sloppy social science as a tool for lazy intergenerational shaming how do you respond?
It is odd to equate documenting teens mental health issues with intergenerational shaming. Im not shaming anyone and the data I analyse is from teens, not older people criticising them.

This comment is especially strange because this researchers best-known paper, about what he calls the Goldilocks theory, shows the same thing I find lower wellbeing after more hours of screen time. Were basically replicating each others research across two different countries, which is usually considered a good thing. So I am confused.

Your arguments also seem to have been drawn on by the conservative right as ammunition for claims that technology is leading to the moral degradation of the young. Are you comfortable about that?
My analyses look at what young people are saying about themselves and how they are feeling, so I dont think this idea of older people love to whine about the young is relevant. I didnt look at what older people have to say about young people. I looked at what young people are saying about their own experiences and their own lives, compared to young people 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

Nor is it fair or accurate to characterise this as youth-bashing. Teens are saying they are suffering and documenting that should help them, not hurt them. I wrote the book because I wanted to give a voice to iGen and their experiences, through the 11 million who filled out national surveys, to the 200 plus who answered open-ended questions for me, to the 23 I talked to for up to two hours. It had absolutely nothing to do with older people and their complaints about youth.

Many of us have a nagging feeling that social media is bad for our wellbeing, but we all suffer from a fear of missing out.
Teens feel that very intensely, which is one reason why they are so addicted to their phones. Yet, ironically, the teens who spend more time on social media are actually more likely to report feeling left out.

But is this confined to iGeners? One could go to a childs birthday party where the parents are glued to their smartphones and not talking to each other too.
It is important to consider that while this trend also affects adults, it is particularly worrisome for teens because their brain development is ongoing and adolescence is a crucial time for developing social skills.

You say teens might know the right emoji but in real life might not know the right facial expression.
There is very little research on that question. There is one study that looked at the effects of screens on social skills among 11- to 12-year-olds, half of whom used screens at their normal level and half went to a five-day screen-free camp.

Those who attended the camp improved their social skills reading emotions on faces was what they measured. That makes sense thats the social skill you would expect to suffer if you werent getting much in-person social interaction.

So is it up to regulators or parents to improve the situation? Leaving this problem for parents to fix is a big challenge.
Yes it is. I have three kids and my oldest is 10, but in her class about half have a phone, so many of them are on social media already. Parents have a tough job, because there are temptations on the screen constantly.

What advice would you give parents?
Put off getting your child a phone for as long as possible and, when you do, start with one that doesnt have internet access so they dont have the internet in their pocket all the time.

But when your child says, but all my friends have got one, how do you reply?
Maybe with my parents line If your friends all jumped in the lake, would you do it too? Although at that age the answer is usually yes, which I understand. But you can do social media on a desktop computer for a limited time each day. When we looked at the data, we found that an hour a day of electronic device use doesnt have any negative effects on mental health two hours a day or more is when you get the problems.

The majority of teens are on screens a lot more than that. So if they want to use Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook to keep up with their friends activities, they can do that from a desktop computer.

That sounds hard to enforce.
We need to be more understanding of the effects of smartphones. In many ways, parents are worried about the wrong things theyre worried about their kids driving and going out. They dont worry about their kids sitting by themselves in a room with their phone and they should.

Lots of social media features such as notifications or Snapchats Snapstreak feature are engineered to keep us glued to our phones. Should these types of features be outlawed?
Oh man. Parents can put an app [such as Kidslox or Screentime] on their kids phone to limit the amount of time they spend on it. Do that right away. In terms of the bigger solutions, I think thats above my pay grade to figure out.

Youve been accused by another psychologist of cherry-picking your data. Of ignoring, say, studies that suggest active social media use is associated with positive outcomes such as resilience. Did you collect data to fit a theory?
Its impossible to judge that claim she does not provide citations to these studies. I found a few studies finding no effects or positive effects, but they were all older, before smartphones were on the scene. She says in order to prove smartphones are responsible for these trends we need a large study randomly assigning teens to not use smartphones or use them. If we wait for this kind of study, we will wait for ever that type of study is just about impossible to conduct.

She concludes by saying: My suspicion is that the kids are gonna be OK. However, it is not OK that 50% more teens suffer from major depression now versus just six years ago and three times as many girls aged 12 to 14 take their own lives. It is not OK that more teens say that they are lonely and feel hopeless. It is not OK that teens arent seeing their friends in person as much. If we twiddle our thumbs waiting for the perfect experiment, we are taking a big risk and I for one am not willing to do that.

Are you expecting anyone from Silicon Valley to say: How can we help?
No, but what I think is interesting is many tech-connected people in Silicon Valley restrict their own childrens screen use, so they know. Theyre living off of it but they know its effects. It indicates that pointing out the effects of smartphones doesnt make you a luddite.

iGen: Why Todays Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us by Jean Twenge is published by Simon & Schuster US ($27) on 22 August

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/13/are-smartphones-really-making-our-children-sad

She fought to get a mat on the sand so her wheels could take her to the sea.

The day Gabrielle Peters started using a wheelchair was the day she started learning how to fight.

Peters is prickly, and it’s earned. For years, she clammed up in the face of condescending stares from strangers, platitudes from politicians, and second-class treatment from doctors. Now, when people try to “fix” her, she recommends they “take a good, long look in the damn mirror.”

When the housing complex where she lives in Vancouver was sold to a Mennonite group that forced residents to participate in prayers in the communal dining hall, she told Canada’s largest newspaper.

She doesn’t want to be saved, humored, or, worst of all, anyone’s “inspiration porn,” that flat, familiar treacle where a disabled person “overcomes” the odds to run cross-country, throw a javelin, or juggle a dozen chainsaws behind their back stories told mostly to remind able-bodied people how “good” they have it.

Peters wants equal health care, equal access, and equal rights. She also wants to go to the beach.

Until Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017, it had been more than 10 years since Peters had been on the sand. “The world I exist in was not designed for me, and the people I exist with have all sorts of messed up ideas about me,” Peters says.

A self-proclaimed “city person,” the water is her favorite place to be. The forest is a close second. When Peters was discharged from the hospital after rehabbing from the autoimmune disease that required her to begin using a wheelchair, she was determined not to let her new mobility arrangement reduce her quality of life.

But, without a flat surface, determination means squat.

She tried hiking the “accessible” trail in the city’s expansive Stanley Park to no avail. The surface was uneven, the paving was intermittent, and the grade was too steep.

A photo Peters took of the trail in October, showing pebbles and pine needles over uneven dirt. Photo by Gabrielle Peters.

Accessibility, it turns out, is subjective.

At the beach, she would sit as close to the water as she could by a paved seawall far from the tideline while her friends lounged on on a sandy section nearby. When she left, her friends would get up and move closer to the water.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a major federal law mandating equal opportunity and access for people with disabilities.

While many Americans, particularly those who lean left, tend to view the country as a sort of “America Plus” what we could be if only our self-involved, short-sighted politicians rolled up their sleeves, delivered a killer Aaron Sorkin-style speech, and started working for the common good on disability, Canada largely relies on a vague statement of principles laid out in documents like the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, which calls for “equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination based on mental or physical disability.”

Efforts led by groups like Barrier Free Canada, Every Canadian Counts, and others to establish concrete, nationwide standards for accessibility, have thus far failed to produce legislation.

In the meantime, many disabled Canadians are forced to rely on the generosity of local governments and the tenacity of their fed up, pissed off peers like Peters to safeguard and expand their right to access public spaces.

In summer 2016, Peters (@mssinenomine on Twitter) began tweeting at the Vancouver Park Board, the agency responsible for the city’s beaches, demanding access to the shore.

The solution, she discovered, was 2,700 miles away, in Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario where the town had installed a flexible mat on the sand, allowing wheelchair users to glide all the way up to the waters’ edge.

If a tiny Lake Huron community of fewer than 4,000 people could get its disabled residents and visitors to the shoreline, Peters argued, her wealthy global city had no excuse.

The Park Board replied with a “survey of a plan of priorities for some time in the future.”

It felt insulting.

It turns out Vancouver city officials were indeed working on a solution having spent the previous two years searching for a way to open up the shoreline.

Park Board Chair Michael Weibe, who also sits on the Vancouver’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, spends a lot of time on the road.

When he travels with his mother, who uses a wheelchair, he keeps a running note of “what works and what doesn’t,” based on her feedback as well as the feedback from residents who write and call his office with suggestions.

“Its always great to have such a healthy user group thats willing to share the information with us,” he says.

Part of the solution, it turned out, was in Vancouver’s own backyard.

The Park Board purchased a single MobiMat dirt cheap from an event company eager to sell it.

The low cost turned out to be a warning sign. The mat didn’t come with all the required parts, which required money the board hadn’t budgeted for and then had to find.

There was another problem too. Unlike Northern Bruce Peninsula, Vancouver has 14-foot tides. If the MobiMat was rolled all the way out to the water’s edge, parts of it would quickly be swallowed by the sea.

As a result, the mat sat in storage for the first few weeks of the summer.

Peters didn’t think she should have to wait for something able-bodied residents already had unlimited access to.

On June 23, she emailed a representative from the Park Board who had contacted her after her earlier tweets. She explained the feeling of dependency that comes with having to call in and request a beach wheelchair which are not self-powered in order to get on the sand. She explained the fear of leaving one’s wheelchair unsecured, and that many people have no desire to be pushed. She explained the longing she and others experience standing or sitting by the seawall, squinting at the waves meters away.

“I want on the beach now,” she wrote.

A member of the board followed up with a phone call a few days later. The hold up, he explained, was the missing parts, which were awaiting delivery.

For the first time, it was evident that someone was listening.

On Aug. 9, the city finally rolled out the mat at English Bay Beach.

Peters had been having health complications and had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for that day, but was determined to “soak in this tiny little win in a sea of inequality.”

And, of course, to “try it out and get close to my water.”

This time, her determination was met with the right piece of equipment.

She was nervous wheeling to it. As her chair edged on, the artificial surface slowed her pace, but did not leave her feeling “tippy or off balance.” She found that it wasn’t difficult to maneuver. A small gap in one section turned out to be easy to navigate.

A few minutes later, she caught the sunset.

“You’re a trailblazer,” an older woman told her.

Peters explained that she didn’t work for the Park Board, and she left to go get a hot dog. Back near the seawall, her former high water mark, she saw a man in a motorized wheelchair and told him about the mat. She watched him power over and down the path, stopping at the edge.

As she was leaving an hour later, she noticed he was still there.

“I never spoke to him, but I think I know how he feels about it,” she wrote on Twitter later that day.

Still, years of delayed promises have left Peters feeling anxious about the mat’s prospects.

“What if no one uses it?” she wonders. “What if it turns into an excuse to not make something else accessible because it wasn’t popular enough?”

The current setup is not perfect. Right now, there’s only one mat and the beach gets crowded. Also, it can’t really get that close to the shoreline because of the extreme rise and fall of the bay.

But there are signs the tide is turning. One of the first things Peters noticed was that there was no sign alerting beachgoers to the presence of the mat. If you didn’t already know about it, she realized, you would have no idea it was there.

Peters wrote the Park Board on Twitter. This time, they replied immediately.

Weibe notes that other residents have recommended creating more sitting areas adjacent to the mat to make it a social space. Recently, the Park Board purchased nine new wheelchairs with inflatable tires that can travel over sand to the water line, though they still require the aid of a friend or lifeguard.

A beach wheelchair. Photo by the National Park Service.

“Our goal is to have them at every beach because the call in [to get a beach wheelchair] is just another barrier,” Weibe says.

Peters agrees and has a million more ideas for what the city can do next.

She wants Vancouver’s beaches to get waterproof wheelchairs powered by compressed air for use in the ocean. She wants the Park Board to install a ramp by an area of stairs near the water. She wants adapted versions of the dozens of adventure activities in the city.

“I don’t get people who see this accessibility innovation as burdensome,” she says. “It’s fucking amazing and cool and requires the best kind of integrating of tech, design, ideas, and people.”

Gabrielle Peters knows how to fight. She fought to go to the beach and won. She’ll keep fighting until every space everywhere is accessible for everyone.

Until that happens, she’ll celebrate the small victory the way she prefers. By soaking in the salt air.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/she-fought-to-get-a-mat-on-the-sand-so-her-wheels-could-take-her-to-the-sea

A moment that changed me: finding out that my dad was an Auschwitz baby | Namalee Bolle

The discovery that my real grandparents died in the Holocaust helped me understand my father and made me determined to help others, says artist and writer Namalee Bolle

Mum was sombre as she spoke, so I knew it was serious. Shes not the kind of mother who is unsmiling very often so when she is, its deeply unsettling. Her kind almond eyes were intense as she became the storyteller of the kind of drama you go to the movies for.

Oma is not your real grandmother. In 1943 she pretended Dad was her own baby that she lost in a miscarriage. She risked her life and saved your dad from the Nazis. Her voice became quieter as she told the family secret.

Your grandad handed Dad to her in the middle of the night with tears streaming down his face and never returned. Your real grandparents were Jews who died in Auschwitz.

As a 16-year-old teenager I was at my wits end about my erratic, volatile dad but suddenly it all made perfect sense. His rages, panic attacks and severe depression only seemed to worsen as the years went by, and he had an awful debilitating lung condition from which he struggled to breathe. Sometimes he was lovely comedic with a weird Dutch sense of humour that had us in stitches, but fun Dad didnt last long before he became gloomy Dad again.

Intuitively I knew in my heart he loved us and I tried to reach out to him, but it was monumentally challenging because I was still a child, and he was psychologically abusive to me and my younger sister whom I was ferociously protective of. Our home felt like a war zone where Shirani and I were fighting for our own survival, against our father.

My grandparents names were Leo and Hildegard Denneboom. My dads name was originally Leo too, but he was renamed Hans Bolle and grew up in Amsterdam. Jacoba Bolle, Dads heroic second mother, was married to Max Bolle, but he died of a heart attack when Dad was only 17.

Years later I would discover psychosomatic connections between unhealed grief and respiratory problems, but I know Dad wouldnt have listened. He was in denial of the root cause of his problems and refused help. It was as if he felt he deserved to suffer for still being alive. I believe this survivors guilt is what eventually led to his own death five years ago this summer, four years after his adoptive mother Jacoba died at 96.

Hans
Intuitively I knew in my heart he loved us . Hans Bolle. Photograph: Namalee Bolle

What dad really needed was a therapist like Dr Viktor Frankl, inventor of logotherapy, who was a Holocaust survivor himself, as documented in his brilliant book Mans Search for Meaning. Frankls existential method was highly relatable to our situation and he inspired me to train as a psychotherapist myself.

I didnt start to fully acknowledge I was a second generation Holocaust survivor until I was in my late 20s and well into my fashion career, having cofounded my own magazine SUPERSUPER! The ultra-bright, relentlessly positive tone and hyper-colourful styling were in fact born of coping mechanisms of growing up with the overarching burden of death and my dads colossal pessimism about his past. I also became aware of epigenetic inheritance the transferral of trauma through DNA that makes it more likely for me to be affected by stress so I learned mindfulness meditation and reiki to self-soothe and protect myself.

Dad simply did not know how to stop the pain spilling out of him and into us. He was tortured by his past and had no tools for dealing with it as emotional difficulties and mental health problems were not something a man felt comfortable admitting to at the time. Without the unconditional love of my incredible mother I do not believe he would have lasted as long as he did. I have thought endlessly about my grandmothers altruism in helping a baby in need while putting herself in grave danger. Thanks to her I would not think twice about adopting a child.

The discovery of my true background has given me the deepest awareness to search with tremendous empathy when determining the link between PTSD and the mental and physical symptoms it creates. Now I am going to honour my family and our bittersweet tale by helping others with their healing too.

Namalee Bolle is an artist and writer with a background in fashion and creative direction. Winner of the Guardian Jackie Moore award for fashion journalism, she was also fashion director for Sleazenation, co-founder of SUPERSUPER! magazine and has contributed to I-D, the Evening Standard and Vogue

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/11/a-moment-that-changed-me-mum-dad-auschwitz-baby

It was all yellow: did digitalis affect the way Van Gogh saw the world?

Extracted from foxgloves, digitalis was once used as a treatment for epilepsy. Could a side effect have triggered the artists yellow period?

It was recently the 127th anniversary of the tragic death of Vincent van Gogh. His short life came to an untimely end two days after he shot himself in the chest; he had experienced mental health issues through much of his life. In the absence of a definitive diagnosis, speculation as to the true nature of his illness fills volumes.

Although he came under the care of several doctors during his life time, knowledge of diseases of the mind was in its infancy in the late nineteenth century. As a result, many of the treatments used at the time would have been ineffective if not potentially dangerous. From our point of view, however, one drug that might have been given to Van Gogh is particularly interesting.

Towards the end of his life, under the care of Dr Gachet, it seems that Van Gogh may have been treated with digitalis for the epileptic fits he experienced. Digitalis, extracted from foxglove plants, is a powerful medicine still in use today as a treatment for certain heart conditions, but not epilepsy. In Van Goghs day, and for a long time before then, digitalis was known to be an effective treatment of dropsy, or accumulation of fluid in the body. Dropsy could have been caused by inefficient beating of the heart or because of liver disease. But with little understanding of the underlying causes of many diseases, almost anything shown to have an effect on the body even if that was simply to induce vomiting was considered a medical benefit. If the treatment for one disease was successful, it was often tried out on a host of others, just in case it proved to be a panacea. Extracts of foxglove really would have been effective in treating dropsy caused by heart failure, but would have done nothing for Van Goghs epilepsy. However, it is just possible it may have contributed to his artistic output.

Portrait
Portrait of Dr Gachet, by Vincent van Gogh. Gachet holds a foxglove, seen by some to suggest that he treated Van Gogh with digitalis. Photograph: DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI/De Agostini/Getty Images

Digitalis is, in fact, a mixture of several different compounds that today are separated and used individually to treat heart conditions. One of the compounds, digoxin, is listed by the World Health Organisation as an essential medicine because of its huge benefit in the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation. Digoxin has two effects on the heart. Firstly, it helps to control the electrical signals that are sent across the heart to trigger the cells to beat in a coordinated way producing a heartbeat. Secondly, it makes the individual heart cells contract more slowly and strongly, improving the efficiency of the pumping action to move blood round the body.

To achieve these effects on the heart, digoxin and related compounds interact with the enzyme Na+/K+ ATPase. Digoxin is a very potent drug, the therapeutic dose is miniscule, and it is very close to the level that can also produce digitalis intoxication. Such a narrow gap between a therapeutic and potentially harmful dose would simply not be tolerated in a new drug being brought to market. However, the undoubted benefit of digoxin and its long history of use means it is a vital part of modern medicine. Because the drug has been in use for so long over 200 years, since the physician William Withering advocated its use in 1775 we have had plenty of time to understand how the drug works and the potential side-effects. Patients taking digoxin are carefully monitored and a number of antidotes have been developed to treat overdoses.

The problem, as with all drugs, is side-effects. To achieve its effects on the heart, digoxin and related compounds interact with the enzyme Na+/K+ ATPase.Digoxins strong interaction with the enzyme means it is very potent, but Na+/K+ ATPase is distributed throughout the body. It is therefore the interaction between the drug and the enzymes located elsewhere in the body that is the cause of side-effects. The most common problems associated with digoxin are nausea and loss of appetite, but its other effects are more intriguing.

Particularly high concentrations of digoxins target enzyme are found in the cone cells in retina of the eye. These are the cells that give us our colour perception. It is very rare, but some people taking digoxin and related drugs can experience haziness to their vision, or a yellow tinge to everything they see, known as xanthopsia. Occasionally, points of light may appear to have coloured halos around them. Rarer still are effects on pupil size, such as dilation, constriction or even unequal-sized pupils.

The effects of digitalis intoxication have been suggested as the cause of Van Goghs yellow period and the spectacular sky he painted in The Starry Night. More circumstantial evidence comes from the two portraits Van Gogh produced of his doctor, Paul Gachet, showing him holding a foxglove flower. One of Van Goghs self portraits also shows uneven pupils.

All of this is very interesting but it is pure speculation. Van Gogh may not have taken digitalis, and perhaps simply liked the colour yellow and the effect of swirling colours around the stars he painted. Unequal pupil size in his self-portrait may have been the result of a simple slip of the paintbrush.

There are also many other factors to consider. Van Gogh was known to drink large quantities of absinthe (though not enough to produce yellow colour perception) as well as turpentine (which can affect vision but not colour perception). Whatever the reason for Van Goghs particular artistic choices, we can still appreciate his remarkable output from such a tragically short life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/aug/10/it-was-all-yellow-did-digitalis-affect-the-way-van-gogh-saw-the-world

Swarm kills the clutter, focuses on logging location

Swarm has been through a lot of changes since it launched in May 2014.

The app, which originally debuted as a social utility to let people check-in to locations and meet up with their friends, has since shifted to a gamified location-sharing app. Today, the company is looking to revamp the app once again, with a new focus on lifelogging.

So much of our lives is now contained within searchable data. We store our memories in Instagram and Facebook, revisit our years-old micro-thoughts on Twitter, track our health with apps like Clue and FitBit, and the list goes on and on. Swarm, with the launch of version 5.0, wants to be the best at telling you about where youve been in the real world.

That starts with a brand new home page, simplifying the app considerably. The old Swarm launched you into a page with five tabs at the bottom and two tabs at the top, offering the ability to look at your own check-ins as well as the check-ins of your friends.

Now, the home screen has just three tabs: Me, Check-in, and My Friends.

Historically, our biggest challenge has been to make things simpler as opposed to more complex, said Foursquare cofounder and Executive Chairman Dennis Crowley. Its very easy to continue adding features, but we challenged ourselves to remove 70 percent of the complexity from the app so that users can understand it right away.

Swarm 5.0 launches directly into the Profile (Me) tab, with an interactive map at the top showing you exactly where youve been. At a glance, I can see that Ive been to 671 places across 77 categories, making up a total of 1,277 check-ins.

Below the map, youll find your own timeline of events, including who was there with you and how many coins you received. More importantly, however, the profile page offers a fantastic search tool. Users can search by friends they checked in with, city, category, or even the type of restaurant.

This should make it easier for users to remember where theyve been no matter how much time has passed.

At the top of the Profile page is your profile picture. Clicking into it will take the user to their personal insight page, letting users check on their mayorships, their top categories, sticker progress, photos, and friends.

Speaking of, the Friends feed is also somewhat simplified, integrating the old Games tab into the friend timeline to show where you stand on the leaderboard. And, as expected, users can follow along chronologically with their friends check-ins from this page, which is also searchable.

Notifications on friend requests and incoming direct messages can also be found on the top right of the Friends page.

The check-in screen is the most familiar in the new Swarm 5.0. The app automatically decides where you are instead of sending you into a search page, with easy options to change location quickly.

  1. Sticker Game

  2. Me Tab

  3. iOS – Device – Map

  4. Friend Feed

All the same accoutrements, like stickers, text, friend-tagging and photos, are all available in their usual spots. However, alongside the Twitter and Facebook share buttons, Swarm has now added an Off-The-Grid button for folks who want to check-in without broadcasting their location to their friends.

We were seeing a lot of people ask what the heck is this thing?, said Crowley. Super users stuck with the app but we were losing a lot of new users in the meantime. This version of the app is designed so users can really understand the story behind it and hopefully fall in love with it.

Swarm has seemingly come full circle from its origins within the old Foursquare, letting users log their locations in a searchable fashion. After ditching mayorships and leaderboards in the first iteration of Swarm, those things are now alive and well. After trying and failing to introduce a social utility that lets friends meet up in the real world, the core of Foursquare check-ins has remained.

In short: if it aint broke, dont fix it.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/08/swarm-kills-the-clutter-focuses-on-logging-location/

Four in 10 maternity wards in England closed in 2016 – BBC News

Image copyright Science Photo Library

More than 40% of maternity wards in England closed their doors to expectant mothers at least once in 2016, data obtained by the Labour Party suggests.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, 42 out of 96 trusts said they had shut maternity wards temporarily on a total of 382 occasions.

The most common reasons given were too few staff and not enough beds.

The government said closures are “well rehearsed” and it was “misleading” to say they were down to staff shortages.

The Royal College of Midwives said that sometimes it was right to close a unit and divert new admissions – when the safety of mothers and babies already being treated in the hospital might be compromised, for example.

But doing so on a regular basis could reflect underlying problems with the number of expert staff.

‘Tory underfunding’

The data shows that in 2016 maternity units were closed on 382 separate occasions, compared with 375 in 2015 and 225 in 2014.

Some were closed overnight, while other closures lasted more than 24 hours.

Forty of the 136 hospital trusts in England did not respond to requests for information.

Those that did included:

  • Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust closed its maternity unit on 30 occasions in 2016, citing “insufficient midwifery staffing for workload”
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust closed its unit five times, once for 14.5 hours to “maintain safety and staffing levels”
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust closed its maternity unit for eight hours, citing “full cot occupancy” in the neo-natal unit
  • Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust closed its maternity unit 10 times, because of capacity, high activity and staffing

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “These findings show the devastating impact which Tory underfunding is having for mothers and children across the country.

“The uncertainty for so many women just when they need the NHS most is unthinkable.”

Image copyright PA

Sean O’Sullivan, from the Royal College of Midwives, said the figures highlighted the pressures on maternity services in England, where there was a shortage of 3,500 full-time midwives.

“If units are regularly and persistently having to close their doors, it suggests there is an underlying problem around capacity and staffing levels that needs immediate attention.”

He also said it was upsetting and distressing for women to be diverted to other hospitals when they were in labour.

National Childbirth Trust senior policy adviser Elizabeth Duff said it was “appalling” that pregnant women “are pushed from pillar to post in the throes of labour”.

“New maternity policy in England stresses the need for locally based services which must have enough midwives so that women are not turned away in labour,” she said.

‘Matter of hours’

A Department of Health spokesperson said there were now more than 2,000 additional midwives compared with May 2010.

There are also 6,500 midwives currently in training.

“Temporary closures in NHS maternity units are well rehearsed safety measures, which we expect trusts to use to safely manage peaks in admissions,” the spokesman said.

“To use these figures as an indication of safe staffing issues, particularly when a number of them could have been for a matter of hours, is misleading because maternity services are unable to plan the exact time and place of birth for all women in their care.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40854631

A smartwatch wont fix whats broken with Fitbit

Fitbits Q2 earnings could have been worse. Unlike Q4 of last year, the company didnt use the opportunity to announce that it would be laying off six percent of its staff. Still, things are bad. As we pointed out earlier in the week, the companys stock price is little more than 10 percent of its 2015 high.

According to some new numbers, Fitbit can also no longer claim to be the worlds top wearable maker. Right after the company announced its financials, Strategy Analytics noted that Chinese handset maker Xiaomi had snapped the title away from the company. Of course, Fitbit tried to put a happy face on its recent woes by reconfirming its plan to bounce back: a smartwatch.

In a statement issued alongside its earnings, co-founder and CEO James Park wrote, Our smartwatch, which we believe will deliver the best health and fitness experience in the category, is on track for delivery ahead of the holiday seasonand will drive a strong second half of the year.

Park has been talking up the watch for months now, in an attempt both to build hype and, it seems, reassure investors that help is on the way with what he believes will be an industry game changer. Thats a lot to pin on one device. Its still too early to pass judgement, of course all we know about the product is what weve seen from leaks. But what weve seen so far points to a company that has been learning many of the wrong lessons of late.

With a reported $300 price point, Fitbit is firmly targeting the premium market. Thats a full hundred dollars more than its current most expensive device, the Blaze. Released last year, that product straddled the line between fitness tracker and smartwatch, omitting, among other things, support for third-party apps. So Fitbit doubled down and went on a shopping spree. Earlier this year, the company bought two unique smartwatch startups, Pebble and Vector, for a reported $53 million.

Those companies, along with mobile payment startup Coin (which it bought the year prior), serve as the foundation of the still-secretive smartwatch. Production on the device has reportedly been plagued by technical issues, including problems with GPS and waterproofing, which could go a ways toward explaining why weve heard so little about the product, even as the company has been talking up its arrival for months.

In spite of those apparent delays, theres little question that Fitbit has a good team in place, capable of producing a very good product. Until very recently, it has been the dominant force in wearables, and both Vector and Pebble have already given the world compelling devices. But much of Fitbits problems stem from the fact that wearables in general have flatlined. Initial excitement has died down and many who have purchased a fitness band are holding on to the ones they own.

And with the notable exception of Apple, smartwatches havent looked much better. In fact, the low end of the pricing spectrum is a rare bright spot for the otherwise lackluster space. As Fitbits share of the global market fell sharply from 29 percent to 16 percent, Xiaomi rose from 15 percent to 17 percent. That growth was fueled by the companys extremely low price point. Here in the U.S., you can pick up one of their Mi Bands for $15. Fitbits cheapest device, meanwhile, is the Zip, an extremely basic clip-on step counter thatll run you $60.

Cheaper devices are one potential option for the company moving forward. Granted, its often hard to be price competitive with Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, but Fitbit still has healthy brand reconnection and robust software offerings, which could justify a bit of a premium over rock-bottom trackers like the Mi Band. A substantial price drop on an offering like the companys best-selling Charge 2 would do wonders for sales. Right now, the fitness band is nearly 10 times the price of Xiaomis cheapest offering.

Lowering device cost would also help the company gain even more of a foothold in the competitive corporate and clinical health space. Its a still lucrative portion of the wearable industry, into which its one-time fierce competitor Jawbone is said to be shifting after a couple of years of radio silence.

Im happy to hold off judgement on the new smartwatch until it actually arrives, which, from the sound of it, will be sooner than later. But even if it manages to combine all of the best worlds of the companies it has acquired, its hard to imagine a premium-priced device being the right path forward for Fitbit.

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/06/a-smartwatch-wont-fix-whats-broken-with-fitbit/