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If we can still act like children, we can still learn important lessons from books, tv shows, and films

When I was 4 or 5, my grandmother (“Nanny”), asked me and my sister whether we wanted to stay children or become adults.  My sister (2 years older than me) said she wanted to become an adult, but I said I wanted to stay little. Laurie was given a big teddy bear and I was given a little one and I was PISSED OFF about it! Why can’t I have the BIG teddy?

From then on, I thought becoming an adult was the “better” option for me (hopefully someone would give me a bigger teddy bear for this decision). Well…

nothing that good has come from me wanting to be more adult-like. And

whilst I do think having the cognitive versatility of a typical adult (one whose frontal lobe is fully/close-to-fully developed) is helpful, being rigid like the archetypical “adult” can be super-duper debilitating.

it can even result in developing a personality disorder…

So, STAY LITTLE!

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Being honest with/about your mental health issues will help you heal

As people who know me are already aware, I try to be honest about my mental health issues:

  1. I have generalized anxiety
  2. I had depression (but still have shortish episodes occasionally)
  3. I used to self-harm (use sharp objects to scratch my forearm) but have stopped now. Instead, I have mild anger issues that I’m working on.
  4. I’m on meds (you can ask if you wanna know which ones)
  5. I see a certified therapist, privately, on a weekly/sometimes bi-weekly basis.
  6. I occasionally see a private psychiatrist (like I’M “crazy” enough to get on the NHS waiting list! looool (behind the laughter, I’m crying)!)
  7. I avoid difficult topics by making jokes
  8. I yoga and sing to feel better (that’s probably all “socially acceptable,” but since we’re sharing…)

Thusly, I’m fine admitting that I’m not perfect. No one I know is perfect. A few people I know THINK they are perfect (or at least act that way towards me).

If you or someone you know is dealing with tenuous mental health (we probably all are/will at some point in our life). Know:

  1. You’ll be fiiiiine :0) as long as you don’t avoid what’s happening. Think “I’m Not Afraid of Anything“…yea, she’s afraid of fucking EVERYTHING!
  2.  Slow down. Don’t be afraid to find YOUR OWN rhythm
  3. Cut people out who don’t genuinely care about you
  4. Maybe…take a break from social media? If you think you may be addicted. Also, try taking a break from anything else you’re addicted to.
  5. Try to really think, deep down about what may be negatively impacting your life. This can be…your job, your routine, your close relationships, your addictions, politics, capitalism, more generally.
  6. Get. a. CERTIFIED. therapist. Do NOT just rely on family. or. friends. or. alcohol. That’s fucking bullshit if you’re really struggling. You do not need to feel fucking ashamed for seeing a therapist. Start with the NHS if you’re in the UK. Maybe pay £15-40/hr if you have the money (if you can go to the pub every week, you have the fucking money).
  7. Go back to what you love.

Feel free to share you own struggles in the comments section if you think it will help :0) 

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I write theatre sometimes

I wrote this in 2012 for a dramatic writing class at the University of Sussex. I wanted to turn it into a play but…didn’t have the confidence back then. If you like it (or have constructive criticism to impart upon me), let me know. If you hate it and have nothing nice/kind to say, please fuck off :0)


In the local Yo Sushi restaurant. Early evening. AGATHA and IMOGEN, both in their late 20s, are seated at a candlelit table.

AGATHA looks exhausted. IMOGEN is unenthusiastic about being there but manages to maintain her noticeably happy disposition.

AGATHA. (Using the table to support herself) Ugh…I had such a long day today, Immy. (Whilst squirming) I don’t think even these straight back, ugh, fucking uncomfortable chairs will be able to hold me up. (Looks around) Where is he?

IMOGEN. (A bit agitated) Agatha, I need to start thinking about heading home. John has a bit of a —

AGATHA. (Not paying any attention) I still can’t believe he insisted we meet here. What kind of credible dining establishment serves food on a conveyer belt? I feel like I’m in an episode of I Love Lucy…(Thought) minus the attractive Hispanic boyfriend and the laugh track (Looks down in shame at the table and notices a pair of chopsticks)

IMOGEN. I know you’re having a tough time in the men-department,/ but I don’t need to be dragged—

AGATHA. Where in hell is the fucking silverware! (Realisation) Why am I even doing this to myself? (IMOGEN rolls her eyes.) Oh, don’t even start, Im. You’re happily married. Husband, daughter, loft in Soho, well-organized CD collection…. What more could you fucking want? You don’t have to give me shit about my dating techniques. Help me out. (IMOGEN gives a knowing stare that may come off patronising. Pause; slightly uncomfortable. The silence lasts long enough that AGATHA begins to dose off; eyes closing and then the head drops. AGATHA then realizes what’s going on) Fuck. I just can’t go through with this Im. (A moment) What kind of guy picks Yo! Sushi for a first—no, not only a first. /A fucking blind date!

IMOGEN. (Motherly) Agath—

AGATHA. Yes, I know Imogen. I have to stop saying the “F-word.

IMOGEN. I don’t care what you/ say. Let’s go for coff—

AGATHA. (Not even listening) You know what, you prude? From now on I’ll say..um…Peanut instead of cuss words. (Giggles softly to herself) Yea, yea peanut. Peanut equals (Excited at first. Decides to back off)…eh…(dry) peanut. Why didn’t I move in with that f-peanuting peanuter? He was attractive, good in bed, blue eyes. He fit my…bill. Perfectly. (Pause) Whatever. He had a horrible sense of humour. Racist, sexist. (A Beat) An all-in-all heartless peanut. If I said I loved…(Trails off. Intentionally a bit ambiguous in what she means), I wouldn’t be in this peanuting situation: tired, hungry and my only prayer at satiation presenting itself in the form of a cylinder-shaped, uncooked-sardine or whatever. Where the peanut—I mean fuck, is he? (IMOGEN does not really care) Thanks for staying with me Imo—

IMOGEN. (Fed up) Give me a bre—

AGATHA. (Indignantly) No! I mean it this time. You’re like my uh, blind-date wingman or something. I know I give you “sass” but…I’m just so…so—oh God. (Sees JAMES fixing himself) Mr. Yo-Sushi is coming this way. Just—uh—just pretend you bumped into me and being the old friend you are…(thinks) just, uh decided to sit down for a bit! (muttering To herself) Oh shit oh shit oh shit ok ok you can do this you can you can do this. (AGATHA fixes herself. IMOGEN hesitates to get up. JAMESs makes a B-line towards her and she instinctively rises to shake his hand)

JAMES. (Nervously over-enthusiastic; Addresses IMOGEN) Agatha! It’s so nice to finally meet you. You look lovely! (AGATHA just sits there. Dumbfounded, IMOGEN, confused, conveys a heightened emotion similar to that of a first date).

AGATHA. Uh, Hi?

JAMES. (Acknowledges AGATHA; Still to IMOGEN) You know, the girls I usually attract from match.com are usually, well, rather-uh-morose. (Thought; Plays with flower in his lapel) You know, I don’t think Yo Sushi is the most appropriate place for a first date. (Gives IMOGEN the flower) Would you mind switching gears and heading over to somewhere a little fancier?

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5 writing tips from a boot camp I attended in Jan

Yo dudes. Apparently people read this blog (that’s what my wordpress stats tell me!) so I thought I’d share this blog post I wrote for University of Sussex’s Psychology blog (that’s where I’m getting the ol’ D.Phil from, hopefully).
I’m also sharing it because I’m a bit stressed about my own writing at the mo and it’s making me feel better to read this :0)

Five tips from Thesis Boot Camp, Dec 2016
Right before the holiday season, I decided to attend the doctoral school’s Thesis Boot Camp and was pleasantly surprised by how much I accomplished and learned. One limitation was that the writing workshops mostly catered to the humanities so, in addition to sharing top tips, I’ll also be translating the strategies (on the fly) for us psych folk. I’ll also note how the strategies differ from (incorrect) implicit assumptions I’ve held:
  1. Develop a routine that works for you, specifically: I’ve held onto the implicit assumption that there is a “right” way to do a PhD despite my supervisors and classmates telling me no. Despite this, I know there are others like me comparing themselves to other doctoral students and subsequently, feeling inferior. At thesis boot camp, we were encouraged to figure out what works for us
  2. Try and remove any psychological barriers between you and your writing: …No one at boot camp actually said that, but I think it summarizes what Liz was trying to get across. Specifically: writing is a form of thinking. It’s difficult to form an argument until you start writing so “shut up and write!” That being said, the reason we were told previous attendees wrote as many as 20,000 words in one weekend was because it was “first draft material” or what I refer to as my “messy outline.” As we all know,  psychology articles tend to be pretty information-dense; thus, I knew that if I was going to get anything out of this intensive writing weekend, I needed to bring along some version of my messy outline and then write from that. I also spent half a day editing what I’d already written. Thus, I “only” managed to write 6,000ish words, but I still felt pretty proud of myself (for the most part).
  3. On the subject of editing, dont edit while you write: Something I found REALLY helpful was the notion that multi-taking while writing is not time- or cognitively-efficient. This idea might seem like common sense, but if you’re anything like me, you rarely listen to logic when it comes to writing well, because writing a thesis is stress-inducing. Well, because the boot camp was only two days, I thought I might as well give this logical notion a whirl and by George, it worked! When I was writing content, I only let myself make tiny edits on the sentence I’d just written (because that’s how I write), and I’d try not to let myself go back and read what I just wrote (my worst, self-induced time-suck). After that, I’d only let myself do organization, content-based edits (we were encouraged to break down the process of editing into distinguishable tasks), etc and then, when I was happy with what I was trying to say, I’d copyedit.
  4. Collect evidence based on facts, not emotions: we were encouraged to try out the pomodoro technique (25 mins on, 5 mins break x 3, 25 mins on, long break – REPEAT) for the morning of the first break. Liz encouraged us to base our daily/weekly goals on how much work you achieve on average during one pomodoro in addition to how many pomodoros you can realistically do in a day. I know that at least for me, if I’m feeling particularly motivated, I’ll set myself a word-count goal that is way to high. The only issue with this is that I end up disappointing myself rather feeling accomplished by the end of the day.
  5. If your time management/organization method stresses you out, find/make a new one: If you’re anything like me, getting through your doctorate is a mind-warp (in lieu of a different phrase). Not only is the work challenging, but, because we’re often not credited for how difficult it is to go from dependent undergrad (or whatever) to independent, kickass researcher, we end up feeling inferior to our classmates. I think this is a mind-game that more PhD students would benefit from tackling. There is no right way to do a PhD and thus, there is no right way to organize your time! 
I have more notes from what I learned at Thesis Boot Camp but not enough time to write all of them up. That being said, if you’re keen to hear more of my ramblings, I’d love to go for a coffee. If you know me, you know I’m pretty chatty. My email is m.berenhaus@gmail.com.
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Maybe real thinking is quite rare…

I’m in the process of writing up my doctoral thesis, which means I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and water, staring out the window, and most importantly, thinking.

Back when I was on campus loads, people would say I talked too fast, sent too many emails, talked too loud, or was too fierce & angry.

Well, maybe my problem was that I didn’t stop (pause) and think enough.

I think that’s a lot people’s problem actually.

I’m currently exploring/researching/whatever the relationship between perspective-taking and comprehension. Thus, I think a lot about what perspective a narrative is being told from.

….”Narratives” include the stories being spun by news outlets, family members, friends, songs, movies, books, fiction or nonfiction (and this blog post).

In my opinion, western society’s narrative is currently being told by angry, rich, white people. Mostly male, angry, rich white people.

Thus, unless you actively search for a different narrative, that’s the one you’re being exposed to! Especially if you live in the USA (my home-country).

Be aware. Be wary.

 

 

 

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Rethinking Facebook. And “social media,” in general

I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about Facebook, social medial, capitalism, death. You know, normal stuff.

Basically, I’m sorry Mark, but a lot of aspects of FB sucks ass.

Why do we even go on FB all the time?

Because, we are addicted.

OMG Molly, how did you come to this novel, genius conclusion?

Because there’s loads of research TELLING US. Also, because I’m tooooootally addicted myself.

I had trouble admitting this to myself, because it’s socially acceptable, like drinking (in the UK…and in the US).


The frustrating thing is that I grew up on FB (since I was 15). There were points in my life when I had 2,000+ friends on FB.  It was a type of social currency. A way to convey to others just how cool and totally awesome I am.

Well.

Fuck. that. shit.

I grew up on Musical Theatre. It was my first drug (and I’m neeeeever giving it up!) so I’ve always had “a flair for the dramatic.”

Thus, sharing my shit on FB was a great way for me to come across as the cool successful actress I always wanted to be. The thing is, aging doesn’t always coincide with growing up. You don’t just “grow out” of an addition, because you’re 26 and not 16.

Now, I’m not going to delete FB, because, that in itself is dramatic. Instead, I’ve deleted about 1/3 of my “Friends” over the last month.

And blocked a bunch of people too.

Now, in addition to posting less and giving less of my time over to Mark, I’m only sharing my life with the people that matter to me.

Dear Mark Zukerbeg,

Fuck you! 

PS “Social Media” is 100% based on psychological trickery. How do I know this? Because I know plenty of people in my cohort at school (I study Psychology) who started working in the “private sector.” Don’t get me wrong, making money is fantastic!

But, using your hard-earned degree to manipulate people into reading your content? Not so much.

 

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If someone wants you to fail? fuck ’em (please, not literally)

Dudes,

I’ve been binging on Judd Apatow’s “Love” and towards the end of an episode entitled “Liberty Down,” I started tearing up and needing to immediately jump in the shower, because, yep, that’s my relationship and whilst it’s scary, I love every minute of it.

Being completely honest with someone is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, because to be honest, I don’t trust the majority of people I meet. I was technically born in Manhattan, so, I  guess its not THAT surprising, but…I regularly think about WHY I do the random shit I do:

Well, I think freakishly recent history shows us that…most people don’t give a fuck if we live happily or die miserably, especially, if we have nothing to offer them. And by “nothing” I mean “no money.”

Despite growing up in an upper middle-class town, for a variety of reasons, my family didn’t seem to have much of it. I didn’t really know any differently so I didn’t mind. ESPECIALLY, because I had musical theatre in my life, which, in my eyes, is priceless :0) (thanks, Sondheim). I know that tickets are expensive, but I’ve experienced most of the shows I know via their Original Cast Recording and well, those are basically free at this point.

Ok, back to money:

One of my favorite podcasts, Around the Table, has at least two amazing episodes about money (one is their most recent episode and the other is an amazing conversation between Jaycee and her husband, which I love oh so much). Basically, money is the fucking worst. I wish everyday was the Sabbath so I don’t have to deal with it ever.

That being said, this isn’t La La Land. A girls gotsta eat them chocolate chip cookies, yo (man, I wish there were Girl Scout Cookies in the UK).

But, like, it’s boring as fuck.

Luckily, there are awesome budgeting apps out there and, if you’re super duper nerdy like me, you may even get a kick out of a beautifully organised excel spreadsheet with you and your partner’s shared spending.

Ok! Back to writing my thesis :0) Byeeeeeee