October 12, 2022

By Courtney Wise

Good morning, MindSite News readers. Star Trek actor William Shatner experienced a cognitive shift about Earth after going to outer space at age 90. A writer with bipolar disorder says delusions can be less fearsome than social media. Tips for freelancers on dealing with season affective disorder. Plus: Broke, a film to raise awareness of mental health among soccer players.

Mental health alert: Star Trek actor William Shatner boldly goes to where no Captain Kirk has gone before

William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk of Star Trek (Credit: Twitter) Credit: Shutterstock

Okay, we enjoyed Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series, but wasn’t there something a little…unreflective about him? Not to mention those sleazy sidelong glances at any woman in his orbit. The good news is that Star Trek actor William Shatner, aka the original Captain Kirk, is not his alter ego: He traveled to outer space for the first time at age 90 last October, where he underwent a transformation of sorts. Earlier this week, Variety shared an excerpt from his upcoming book, Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder, in which he describes experiencing “the overview effect,” a cognitive shift often reported by astronauts.

“I had thought that going into space would be the ultimate catharsis of that connection I had been looking for between all living things—that being up there would be the next beautiful step to understanding the harmony of the universe,” he said of his ride in a spacecraft. “I had a different experience, because I discovered that the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our tiny planet even more profound.”

Shatner’s front row view of the vastness of space filled him with a greater awe, respect and sense of responsibility to Earth. It also sparked fear and grieving for the many ways people collectively fail to properly care for the planet. “Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna…things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind,” he wrote. “It filled me with dread.”

Facebook “broke her brain,” but she can’t let it go

via Twitter

In a gripping personal essay published by the New York Times, writer Stephanie Eisler Vance reports that social media noticeably harms her mental health: Although Facebook didn’t cause her bipolar disorder, she says, it exacerbated it. But she also admits that swearing it off altogether is likely impossible for her. “No trigger has been a more consistent presence in my bipolar disorder than ordinary social media,” she writes. “But so many Americans are dependent on social media for community and meaning, and going completely off the grid may not be sustainable. It certainly isn’t for me.”

Eisler Vance has gained a measure of control by going offline to write and create. She goes on to say that, although she is weary of the “noise” even regular social media use dumps into her brain, she is drawn irresistibly to newsfeeds and wishes therapists could figure out how to alleviate their ill effects. To be fair, her desire is shared by scores of researchers within the American Psychological Association.

Freelancers: Tips for emerging from winter with your mental health intact

Though our team is based in sunny California, this is the time of year when days get shorter and much of the U.S. prepares for the cold, dark days of winter. It’s also a time when seasonal affective disorder (SAD) crops up for lots of folks, as the decrease in sunlight jostles internal clocks and reduces the amount of serotonin brains produce. To support freelancers and creatives who often have to hustle in isolation to earn a living, Creative Boom offers up some tips to stay mentally well over these next few months, which include setting a daily routine, getting light into your workspace, exercising regularly, indulging in silliness, and making plans to look forward to.

The botton line? Force yourself out of isolation by connecting with others. If you’re unsure of where to start, look to local chapters of professional associations, Creative Boom advises. “For me, it’s about making sure to get out and talk to somebody every day, whether that’s other dog walkers, a barista or going to a co-working space for a few hours,” illustrator Vicky Hughes said. “I need social interaction, no matter how small, to remind me of the big world beyond my home studio.”

In other news…

In this episode of the How to Build a Happy Life podcast from The Atlantic, psychiatrist Anna Lembke seeks to help listeners understand why people choose their vices over the things they know are actually good for them.

According to Yahoo News, two retired soccer players, Will Miller and Marvin Sordell, released the short film Broke, which follows a young, pro soccer player coming to terms with his identity and self-worth while navigating a major, career-wrenching injury. They hope the film will raise awareness of the importance of mental health among soccer players, the necessity of more direct support for mental health matters in England’s Premier League, and put a spotlight on the general issue of men’s mental health. “When you have people in high profile positions that are idolized by young children, and see them opening up, it sparks something, and makes people think it is ok to be having these conversations,” Sordell said.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline and connect in English or Spanish. If you’re a veteran press 1. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing dial 711, then 988. Services are free and available 24/7.

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Courtney Wise

Courtney Wise Randolph is a writer and creative based in Detroit, Michigan.