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A quarter of young men self-harm to cope with depression, says survey

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

UK poll of 16- to 24-year-olds reveals many over-exercise, punch walls, drink heavily and abuse drugs due to anxiety and stress

One in four young men are turning to self-harm as a result of depression, anxiety and stress, according to a YouGov poll.

Of the 500 men aged 16 to 24 surveyed, 24% said they had intentionally hurt themselves. The poll commissioned by three leading youth charities – the Mix, Self-Harm UK and Young Minds – also found a further 22% said they had considered self-harming.

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Ian Thorpe on bullying, depression and athletes’ mental health

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

His history with mental health has been well-documented, but now the former Olympic champion has turned his attention to a new issue: bullying

Ian Thorpe is on the eighth floor of ABC headquarters in Ultimo, Sydney, seated in an empty boardroom. Behind him is a floor-to-ceiling window facing west, looking out onto the city. The famous Frank Gehry-designed “crumpled paper bag” building at the University of Technology Sydney rises from the earth like a giant alien root, consuming much of the view.

I figure it’s fitting to ask, given where we are, if Thorpe has watched Barracuda, ABC TV’s recent miniseries about a young, gay, stop-at-nothing swimmer determined to make the Olympics.

Related: Ian Thorpe: being asked about sexuality too early delayed my coming out

Related: Ian Thorpe: I’m finally comfortable saying I’m a gay man

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Professional wrestling saved me from depression. Hell yeah! | Clem Bastow

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

What I needed to lift my depression was to find something that gave me such an extreme amount of joy that no low mood could survive in its presence

One of the cruellest things about being depressed is that the things that used to bring you joy suddenly ring hollow. Favourite albums turn to muzak. Beloved foods taste dull. A snuggly couch session with Master & Commander: Far Side Of The World and all the Pizza Shapes you can eat might as well be gruel served on a concrete slab in front of Question Time.

This was, for many years, my more-than-occasional lot in life: I rode the (very boring, not very well designed) rollercoaster of depression from my late teens to my early 30s. I wrote a lot of dreary blog posts, half an aborted roman-a-clef, a handful of doleful “It happened to me” type articles about it, alienated a bunch of friends and lovers, and poured a lot of money into therapy.

Related: How Chyna broke the sexist stranglehold of WWE | Heather Bandenburg

Related: Why don’t I enjoy life? You asked Google – here’s the answer | Anouchka Grose

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‘I loved and hated her in equal measure’ – life with an alcoholic mother

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

When Mum died, I vowed to talk about alcoholism because I can’t bear to be complicit in the silence surrounding the issue

It’s two-and-a-half years since I lost my mum to alcohol. At the time I was 21 and she was 49. It was a bitter yet inevitable end to a battle with a drug that had gradually increased its merciless grip on her over many years. Ashamed as I am to admit this, her death brought momentary relief. I had suddenly been liberated from an all-consuming anxiety; I wasn’t waiting to be called with yet more bad news. I wasn’t dreading talking to a mother whom I loved and hated in equal measure, whose wildly erratic state left me unsure of how to address her, what to say. Yet a harrowing period of depression quickly ensued, and I once again found myself doing what life as the child of an alcoholic had made me an expert of: concealing my true feelings and putting on a brave face.

Related: The secret alcohol liaison nurse’s diary: ‘Cuts are having a devastating impact’

​It is only by reaching out to the children of alcoholics that we can hope to definitively break the cycle of addiction

Related: How far can the NHS go to support addicts who won’t help themselves?

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Heal thyself: meet the doctors living with the conditions they treat

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Would you be in safer hands if your doctor had the same illness as you? We hear from a dermatologist with a skin complaint, a psychiatrist with depression, an oncologist who survived cancer and a maternal fetal medicine specialist who couldn’t conceive

Bav Shergill: As a teenager I was terribly embarrassed about my skin – I had really bad acne from the age of 15. It took me until I went to medical school to find the courage and confidence to change my GP and get a hospital referral.

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Seven ways to cope with a depressed partner

Mar 2nd, 2017 by

Listen to them, look after yourself, and make sure they are seeking professional help

Prevention is better than cure. Be aware of the things that trigger depression and self-destructive behaviours, such as working too hard, placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, being overly self-critical. Learn the warning signs: changes in mood, drinking more, being snappy, poor sleep patterns, not looking after their appearance etc – you’re looking for sustained changes, everyone can have an off day. Get in early and challenge the person about their behaviour. Be firm but not confrontational – argument is counter-productive. Try to help your partner admit there’s a problem, only then can recovery begin. The PHQ9 questionnaire (available online) is a good first tool to see if someone might be depressed and help you get appropriate treatment.

Be a good listener. This is harder than you may imagine, especially if your partner starts talking about things that concern you and you want to answer back. But encourage your partner to open up – it may take time. Be prepared to face uncomfortable issues. To what extent are you part of the problem? Helping your partner may involve making difficult decisions so it is important to show them that you are open-minded and prepared to consider every possibility – but don’t go along with life-changing decisions they want to make while they are still feeling low. They may see things differently as they recover. Don’t tell them they have everything going for them and you don’t understand why they feel so low – it’s not reassuring. But gently helping people see the positives in their own life may be beneficial. Don’t say: “Pull yourself together!”

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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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