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Dale Cregan murders: police officer killed himself after death of colleagues

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Andrew Summerscales was left in ‘a very dark place’ after Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were killed by Dale Cregan in 2012

A former police officer filled out his own death report on official police paperwork and then killed himself after being left “in a very dark place” following the brutal murder of his two colleagues by gangster Dale Cregan, an inquest has heard.

Andrew Summerscales, 46, is believed to have been one of the first on the scene after Cregan killed his “very good friends” PC Nicola Hughes, 23, and PC Fiona Bone, 32, on 18 September 2012.

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‘I was literally tearing myself up’: can the performing arts solve its mental health crisis?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

With performing arts workers twice as likely to attempt suicide than those in other industries, 90 arts organisations have joined forces in Victoria for an industry-first initiative to support them

Operatic soprano Greta Bradman was 19 years old when she started to self-harm. Intense bullying through high school had coincided with her parents’ divorce. She felt isolated and started skipping school. A year earlier her grandfather, cricket star and national hero Sir Donald Bradman, had died.

Donald Bradman and his grand daughter were close – their relationship has been chronicled in a double episode of Australian Story – and he had instilled in her a love of classical music. Greta saw singing as “a kind of solace” for her pain, and she was accepted into the Elder Conservatorium of Music in Adelaide. But that overwhelming sense of self-loathing stayed with her, and she began trying to destroy the one thing that brought her joy: her voice.

Related: Insomnia, anxiety, break-ups … musicians on the dark side of touring

You have these immense highs of being part of a [big show] … and then suddenly it’s all gone

I pulled up my pant legs and we both gasped at the ragged, bloody strips I’d torn in myself.

Related: A short history of mental illness in art

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‘Even the specialists hadn’t seen my baby’s condition before’

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

In the week of the awareness-raising campaign Rare Diseases Day, Sofya Court hopes the story of her son – born with a syndrome shared by only a few hundred people worldwide – will inspire others coping with obscure conditions

It is 13 years since my son was born. His due date was 29 February, but he waited until the clock had tipped safely into March, guaranteeing him annual birthday parties. In the delivery room, the midwife whisked him off to be checked over: he was a good size, a healthy colour and had fully functioning lungs judging from the enthusiastic crying – but his hands were unusual. Several fingers were joined together. They looked just like perfect baby fingers, with tiny nails and creases, but were stuck together like the pages of a book that hadn’t been cut. The midwife, putting on a cheery voice, said that webbing was traditionally a sign of good luck. But the paediatricians were less fanciful. The doctors who looked him over didn’t look at us; they talked to each other out of our earshot, and then suggested referrals to a plastic surgeon and a geneticist.

When we met the geneticist, she told us that there was one extraordinarily rare disease associated with syndactyly (the medical term for joined fingers). She had read up on it, and judging by the photos of patients in the research papers, she didn’t think our baby had it too. But she told us there was a blood test that would allow us to rule it out. Blood samples were sent to the US. Three months later, the results came back. Our son did have a genetic disease that affected just one in 10 million people; there were only a few hundred known cases in the world.

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Running in circles: my track marathon

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Everyone wants a nice, flat marathon course for a crack at their PB. But 105 laps of the track are not for the faint hearted, as Stuart Goodwin discovered

In summer 2007, I jogged 8km alone on my club’s track. I have rarely been so bored. This unfond memory was just one of many reasons why, on New Year’s Eve, with a browser window open and debit card in hand to enter Warrington’s winter track marathon, I should have stopped myself.

I’d had no joy with the London ballot, and none of the other early-year marathons appealed. So when word reached me of a track marathon in my home town, at the scene of more or less every personal best I set as a youngster (as well as the finish of my one-and-only sub-2hr half, two years ago), all thoughts turned to flatness, bouncy-bouncy track and the lack of need for a running belt. These somehow over-rode the small matter of 105 laps, plus 195 metres, and what this could do to a runner’s head.

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Picture of the day: Transgrancanaria Ultra

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

125km and 8000m of vertical gain make Transgrancanaria one of the toughest races in the world

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Everything you need to know about vitamin B12 deficiency

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

It’s essential for a healthy immune system and regulates mood. A growing number of UK clinics market vitamin injections to healthy people but do you really need them?

B12 is involved in producing red blood cells, maintaining a healthy nervous system, and converting food to energy. It also helps to regulate the immune system and mood, and control levels of the amino acid homocysteine, elevated levels of which are associated with heart disease. Most people who eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products get enough B12. Vegans are advised to eat fortified food and take supplements.

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‘So, you know I have bipolar?’ – the perils of dating with a mental health problem

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Dating is a tricky business at the best of times, but even more so if you have a history of mental illness. Here are some dos and don’ts …

Dating is hard. It’s paved with heartache and unrequited crushes and the blurting out of gabbled nonsense in front of the unimpressed person you like. When I finally found myself in a conversation with someone I liked at work, whose head I had resolutely stared at the back of for a full three months, I answered an innocuous, “So, how’s your day going?” with, “I am awash with existential despair.” She stared, confused and unblinking, back into my face. I then followed it up with a tiny, pathetic, “Woo!” She sat down again. I continued to stare at the back of her head from my desk, in the full knowledge that she would never speak to me again. This isn’t just me, right? This is how it is for everyone. This is what it’s like to date. It’s awkward.

But what is it like when, in addition to your inability to say anything remotely funny or interesting to the person you are into, you have a mental health problem as well? How does that affect the way you interact with them? How does it affect a relationship once you are actually in one? And, more pressingly: how do you even tell someone you are, or have been, ill? At what point during the dating process is it appropriate to bring up mental health?

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Do painkillers offer any help for back pain?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Back pain affects pretty well everyone at some stage or another, and many people turn to painkillers as the first line of treatment. But is time the greatest healer?

Almost everyone gets back pain. It’s as inevitable as paying taxes and death. But at least you can take painkillers, right? Except that the American College of Physicians (ACP) has announced that drugs should no longer be the first line of treatment. Instead of reaching for paracetamol or ibuprofen, you should try treatment such as heat (superficial), massage or acupuncture. Codeine (with paracetamol) and the occasional diazepam are particularly frowned upon because they carry the risk of addiction.

Of course, times change: I remember patients with back pain regularly arriving by ambulance to be strapped on to beds with traction devices. Antidepressant drugs, just as antiquated a treatment, are now rejected by the ACP as being no more effective than placebos.

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How was your weekend running?

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Ticking off another World Marathon Major in Tokyo – just your standard long run then. Whether its pre-race tomatoes or post-race beers, or even the bit in between, I want to hear all about your weekend exploits

As my mum always used to say when I was a young whippersnapper – do as I say and not as I do. Running a marathon as preparation for another marathon in a couple of months’ time is not necessarily the approved method – my coach would certainly not usually recommend it – but as a long training run, doing the Tokyo marathon takes quite some beating. From the brilliant lunacy of the short but intensely fun Friendship Run on the Saturday to the race itself (mid-race tomato, anyone?) I think I might have DOMS in my face from smiling so much.

A long training run – the longest before a marathon race – is often a wearisome trudge. Do it in a World Marathon Major and instead you get a medal, a post race towel and something called Calorie Mate which looks like a second world war ration block. I haven’t dared unwrap it yet! And a tempo run feels easy when crowds are cheering you on with shouts of “gambare gambare!” – and the people at the bag drop clap you and repeated congratulate you with “good job!” I finished in a steady three hours and 22 minutes and hopefully after some recovery (and some crossed fingers) I am on track to go sub three at the London marathon in a couple of months’ time.

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Why Testosterone Rex is extinct | Cordelia Fine

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

The differences between men and women is all the work of one hormone, right? Totally wrong, says Cordelia Fine

When a baby is born, their sex is usually the first thing we want to know about them. The last thing you’re ever likely to forget about a person is whether they are male or female. We often think of biological sex as a fundamental force in human development that creates not just two kinds of reproductive system, but two kinds of people.

At the core of this way of thinking is a familiar evolutionary story. Men’s much smaller minimum investment in a baby means that they can reap huge reproductive benefits from having sex with many different women; preferably young, fertile ones. Not so for a woman. What most constrains her is access to resources, to help her care for her biologically expensive offspring.

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