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What Goes On Inside A Depressed Person? - VIDEO

 

Asap

ASAP Science has a new explainer on depression.

Noting that the true causes of depression have yet to be pinned down precisely, the video explains the biological basis for depression and how the growth and connections of brain cells play a large roll.

It also considers the hereditary nature of depression and bipolar disorder - studies have shown that if one identical twin has bipolar disorder the other twin has a 60 to 80 percent chance of developing it too.

The video concludes with an introduction to depression in other species.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can also read David Mixner's recent piece on his struggles with depression here.

Continue reading "What Goes On Inside A Depressed Person? - VIDEO" »


Depression Is A Bitch; Trust Me I Know

BY DAVID MIXNER

America's attention has once again turned to the horrors of depression, anxiety, and dark demons after the death of Robin Williams. Williams, like millions of others, struggled with it on a daily basis.

MixnerThe stigma against those with mental illness, depression or even anxiety runs deep.

Trust me I know.

Over the years I just have been reluctant to share my own journey with mental stress. Williams' death compels me to share with you some of my personal struggles.

All my life, many members of my family have struggled with depression. I have to believe there is a genetic component to it. I have not been immune to that struggle.

Living in the closet, I often contemplated suicide. There just didn't seem to be any future for me. When I did eventually come out of the closet at 30, I had a full-fledged nervous breakdown that took the form of a psychosomatic illness. I was totally incapacitated for months and often would sit for days looking at four walls or weeping.

Thank God for the loving family and friends who guided me through horrible darkness.

I sought out therapy from an early age and it has been a savior off and on through my journey. Early on my therapist would recommend medical treatment but I believed if I was on medications it would affect my ability to think and that it would make me truly mentally ill. Hell, even going to a therapist in my youth was considered radical.

As middle age hit, I was plagued with paralyzing anxiety attacks. At night I would fall fast asleep in total peace, then in the middle of the night wake up with so much anxiety I would walk or drive for hours until totally exhausted and with no choice but to collapse and finally end the pain. I thought about climbing to the roof and jumping off to end the anxiety.

The entire process was simply a nightmare.

The anxiety attacks finally moved into the daytime. With that I relented and started taking the prescription drug Zoloft.

The drug has changed my life. Not only has it not affected my mental process but the anxiety attacks have stopped, the depression has mostly disappeared and I feel like I have been given back my life. Now I understand that modern medicine can make the lives better of those of us who have suffered to various degrees with mental stress, and it is time to removed the stigma and allow science to perform its miracles!

Hopefully by opening up in this column, others will be inspired to seek appropriate care and also rid themselves of damaging and deadly stereotypes about mental illness. Our minds are just another part of our body that needs treatment. We fix broken bones and we should celebrate our advances to fix broken minds.


Oh Hell No!: David Mixner to Perform Benefit Stage Show in NYC

Mixner

LGBT and civil rights activist, author, storyteller, and Towleroad contributor David Mixner will debut a new one-night only one-man show on October 27 at 7 pm at New World Stages in New York City to benefit The Point Foundation, an organization which assists LGBTQ students in achieving their academic and leadership potential.

Mixner's new show, Oh Hell No!, will take as its starting point "personal and public details of his headline-grabbing and history-shaping life" and be accompanied musically by Chris Bolan, Megan Osterhaus, and Tim Jerome.

Event chairs for the evening include Alan Cumming, Robert Desiderio, Herb Hamsher, Judith Light, Ken Mehlman, Rob Smith, Jonathan Stoller, Jorge Valencia, and Edie Windsor. For information on tickets, including Premium Seating with special access to the post-performance VIP reception at Glass House Tavern, please contact Drew Rhodes at (212) 512-5785 or drew@pointfoundation.org.

Photo by Nigel Barker.


Iraq: It Was Only a Matter Of Time

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BY DAVID MIXNER

Americans are reacting in shock this week to the rapid advance of the march toward Baghdad of the extremely radical Islamic ISIS militia. The group makes the old Taliban of Afghanistan look moderate. As the fringe group takes city after city, they are killing, raping and burning the homes of average Iraqi citizens.

Really there should be no shock about the emergence of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.

The current situation has been an inevitability since Bush/Cheney took us to war in Iraq. The American invasion and occupation ensure that the more militants elements would pour into the country to fight once again the infidels from the West. America's insistence that a 'democratic form' of government was essential in the nation guaranteed that the Shiites would totally exclude the Sunnis from government, setting the stage for the current situation.

When will the United States (and for that matter most of the Western world) realize that the situation in the 'Islamic Arc' from Syria to Pakistan cannot be controlled by Western ideas, troops, or money? Every time in history we have attempted to impose our values, geographic boundaries and forms of government in this region it has only made the situation worse.

If anyone believes that we will leave a stable and democratic government behind in Afghanistan, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. As we used to say back home, 'that simply ain't gonna happen'.

After our trillion dollar spend, ten years of warfare, more than 8,000 Americans killed and tens of thousands of American soldiers left with severe physical and mental injuries, we are faced with this crisis.

Can someone please explain to the American people exactly what we accomplished?

There will be those who blame our President who is keeping his word (yes, keeping his word!) to the American people by bringing our troops home from these loser wars. If the sun comes up in the east they blame him. There are also interventionists who actually believe if we continue to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan some splendid new day of democracy will eventually emerge from those nations.

What have they been smoking and what history books have they been reading?

Post_war_iraqThe existing boundaries of the current Islamic-dominated states in the Middle East were set by oil companies after World War I. They were divided up based on resources and now historical tribal or faith based areas. Fake monarchies were put in place and we proceeded to take their natural resources to fuel our economies. When the monarchies collapsed we supported military dictatorships including that of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Syria's Basher al-Assad. In fact, we were the main backers of the Taliban in Afghanistan when they were opposing the Russian occupation.

Now the cries will arise to "Save Iraq' and the voices of war will once again emerge from the hawks. Demands will be made to bomb ISIS strong holds as if we can put off the inevitable. Some will demand that we send troops once again into the war torn nation.

Americans have been taken to war in the past based on lies and distortions. We cannot save democracy in Iraq. This is for the Iraqi people to solve for better or worse. The time of dictating their future is over.

We better have those helicopters ready to evacuate Americans from Baghdad because I believe they might be needed sooner rather than later.


Rally for Homeless LGBT Youth Tonight in NYC: VIDEO

Mixner

There is a rally this evening for LGBT Homeless Youth in Washington Square Park in NYC. Details HERE:

The National Coalition for the Homeless and the Ali Forney Center have joined together to launch the National Campaign for Youth Shelter, a collaboration that will build a grassroots campaign to demand a national response to youth homelessness.

On Monday, June 2nd the National Campaign for Youth Shelter will hold a rally in New York City to launch the campaign as a priority within the LGBT movement. LGBT youth are disproportionately over-represented in the homeless youth population, with as many as 40% of the nation's homeless youth being LGBT, while only 5% of the overall youth population is LGBT.

Currently, there are only approximately 4,000 youth shelter beds in the United States, yet as many as 500,000 unaccompanied youths experience homelessness each year.

Watch longtime activist and Towleroad contributor David Mixner talk about the need to help our homeless LGBT youth, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Rally for Homeless LGBT Youth Tonight in NYC: VIDEO" »


Italy's LGBT Movement and the Activists Driving It Forward

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BY DAVID MIXNER

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with a large number of Italian LGBT leaders and influencers. In many ways, their struggle for LGBT rights is in its infancy stages and lags behind most of the Western European powers. However a network of rights organizations make these pioneers a force whose power grows daily in Italy and puts them far ahead of Eastern Europeans.

Adoption rights, hate crimes legislation and marriage equality still all have to be obtained in Italy. At the moment, a hate crimes bill is working through the legislature (it has passed the Chamber of Deputies and is currently in the Italian Senate) but it seems to have quite a few detractors — some who believe it is not tough enough and some who will simply oppose anything having to do with the LGBT community.

ScalfarottoFranco Grillini in 2001 became the first open LGBT member in the Parliament. He was joined by the first Lesbian Anna Paola Concia who was elected in 2008. Today one of the most powerful members in the Chamber of Deputies is openly gay Ivan Scalfarotto (right). The handsome and articulate advocate is Vice Chair of the governing Democratic Party. When meeting with him, one is immediately impressed with his passion, intellect and political agility. Scalfarotto started out as a member of the Green Party in 1988 and shifted to the Democrats in 2008. The passionate activist has pushed for a Hate Crimes bill and is exploring creating national civil unions for Italy.

Over breakfast, Ivan said he was interested in creating an Italian version of the Victory Fund. He believes it is time to move dramatically forward in electing more LGBT Italians to office. There is no question that his charismatic and promising leadership will help make that a reality.

Mg_3187_pp2-copia-fileminimizerAnother bright light is youthful Matteo Pegoraro (right) who hails from Solesino. He is active at both the grassroots and political levels and expressed  impatience with Italy's slow progress.  When asked about then new young Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo told me:

I admit I'm still pretty doubtful. So far, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has given priority to constitutional reforms to reduce public spending and groped to boost employment, but no word yet from the Italian government on the protection of LGBT people. However, hope is the last to die, and I really hope that this Prime Minister can listen to the voices of our community and strive to make a better Italy through raising awareness and social welfare, which starts from the total recognition of fundamental rights.

In addition, the lesbian community has a star in Luisa Bordiga who is coordinator of Arcilesbica Milan.

The country's largest LGBT organization is Arcigay and it covers the broad spectrum of grassroots politics. EDGE is a new professionals organization. Famiglie Arcobaleno and Rete Genitori Rainbow are two family-oriented organizations that would make PFLAG proud.

Without question one of the organizations that could wield considerable influence in Italy is PARKS. The organization is named after American civil rights icon Rosa Parks and its members are the diversity officers of major corporations in Italy. Corporate giants such as IKEA, Johnson & Johnson, Telecom, Citi and IBM are members of the group which has embraced LGBT rights as part of its agenda. You can find its Executive Director Igor Suran all over Italy spreading the gospel of diversity. Lining up these major corporations and others could be the major catalyst for change that is needed in Italy.

Like the rest of the Western powers the victory for Italian LGBT rights feels inevitable. Some of the leaders think marriage equality is ten to twenty years down the road. Interestingly, most of the young organizers think it will only be five years. What is clear is that this Italian LGBT community is a passionate, talented and determined force that will make this happen.

In discussions with the activists, the Vatican comes up over and over again. The Catholic church hangs over the movement in Italy like the Evangelicals do in the United States. A couple of activists even offered to move St. Peter's Basicilica to the United States. I respectfully declined and said that their offer was far too generous!


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